How common is cervical cancer?

Cancer of the cervix is second only to breast cancer as the most common type of cancer found in women worldwide. It affects an estimated 500,000 women each year. In the United States and other developed countries, the rates of cervical cancer are much lower; in fact, according to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, more than 80% of all cases of cervical cancer occur in developing countries.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 12,900 cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually, and about 4,100 women die from the disease.

Although both the incidence and death rates of cervical cancer are going down, it is still a fairly common cancer in U.S. women, which may be related to the prevalence of infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 20 million people are currently infected with HPV. At least 50% of the reproductive-age population has been infected with one or more types of HPV, and up to 6 million new infections occur each year.
Each year, more than 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States, and nearly 4,000 die. Most of these deaths could be prevented if women had tests to detect cervical precancer or cancer early. The most important risk factor for developing cervical cancer is persistent infection with a high risk type of Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Cancer of the lower part of the uterus, the cervix, is the second most common cancer of the female reproductive system. In the United States, the risk of dying from cervical cancer is 0.3%. Over the past 40 years, organized programs for early detection have been successful in decreasing the rate of invasive cervical cancer significantly.

Mark P. Caruso, MD
Internal Medicine
Cervical cancer is no longer the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States. That's largely the result of many women getting regular Pap tests.

Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Cervical cancer can often be successfully treated when it's found early.
It is usually found at a very early stage through a Pap test, or pap smear, a procedure that looks for pre-cancers, or cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if not treated properly.

Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. You can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. There are many types of the HPV virus and not all types of HPV cause cervical cancer.

Women who have their Pap tests as often as they should are least likely to get cervical cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.