Review of Basic Cervical Cancer Facts
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later. When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. Also known as the womb, the uterus is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. The cervix connects the upper part of the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).
Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent HPV infections are available. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.
Who Gets Cervical Cancer?
All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women aged 30 years and older. In 2005,* 11,999 women in the United States were told they had cervical cancer, and 3,924 died from the disease.† For more information, read HPV-Associated Cervical Cancer Statistics.
The human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex, is the main cause of cervical cancer and also causes many vaginal and vulvar cancers. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives. Keep in mind, many people will have an HPV infection at some time in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer.
†U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2005 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2009. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.
*The most recent year for which statistics are currently available.
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Page last reviewed: January 7, 2009
Page last updated: January 7, 2009
Content source: Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion