Cervical Cancer Facts to Know

Cervical Cancer Fact 1. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2006, about 9,710 cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and about 3,700 women will die from the disease.

Cervical Cancer Fact 2. More than twice as many African-American women die from cervical cancer as Caucasian women. Hispanic and Native-American women have higher rates of the disease than Caucasian women. Cervical cancer rates also are rising among Vietnamese women. The highest rate of cervical cancer is in underdeveloped countries.


Cervical Cancer Fact 3. Both incidence and deaths from cervical cancer have declined markedly over the last several decades, due to more frequent detection of pre-invasive and cancerous lesions of the cervix from increased Pap screening.

Cervical Cancer Fact 4. The five-year survival rate for early invasive cancer of the cervix is 92 percent. The overall five-year survival rate (for all stages combined) is about 73 percent. For pre-invasive cervical cancer, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent.

Cervical Cancer Fact 5. Changes in cervical cells are classified by their degree of abnormality. If your test is abnormal, ask your health care professional to discuss how your abnormalities were described. Mild dysplasia, also called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN 1) or low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL), is a common diagnosis. Half of these abnormalities return to normal with no treatment, so your health care professional may want to wait and perform another Pap test in several months. Overtreating mild dysplasia can harm the cervix.

Cervical Cancer Fact 6. The primary risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Large studies have found HPV — primarily HPV 16, 18, 31 and 45 — in virtually all cases of cervical cancer (more than 93 percent). However, it is important to note that not every HPV infection is destined to become cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Fact 7. Rates of cervical carcinoma in situ (a precancerous condition) peak in both black and white women between the ages of 25 and 35. However, the number of cases of invasive cervical cancer increases with age, as does the chance of dying from cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Fact 8. Women who had first sexual intercourse at an early age or who have had many sexual partners, or have partners who have many sexual partners, have a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Fact 9. The majority of cervical cancers develop through a series of gradual, well-defined precancerous lesions. During this usually lengthy process, the abnormal tissue can often be detected by the Pap test and treated.

Cervical Cancer Fact 10. Pap tests, like other early detection tests, are not 100 percent accurate. Though not infallible, when performed properly, the Pap smear detects a significant majority of cervical cancers — usually in the early stages when the likelihood of a cure is the greatest, according to the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

Last medical review: 6/06

Last date updated: 1/07

Copyright 2007 National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC)