About Cervical Cancer

If you have any health concerns you should refer these to your doctor.  The information contained on these pages has been compiled to offer general background information.

WHO graph showing incidence of cervical cancerFurther information is also available on other websites through our Information and Support page.

Incidence of cervical cancer

  • Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women
  • Cervical cancer is the 11th most common cancer overall
  • 528,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year
  • Responsible for 266,000 deaths annually

The role of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in Cervical Cancer

  • HPV is a DNA virus from the Papoviridae family of viruses, which infect the basal layer cells of the epithelium
  • There are more than 100 different types of HPV, many of which are oncogenic and implicated in a range of cancers including oral, laryngeal and cervical cancer.
  • Up to 30 different types can infect the genital region via sexual activity and HPV is believed to be the most common sexually transmitted virus.

Sexually Transmitted HPVs fall into 2 categories:

a) Low risk HPVs: (lr-HPV) do not cause cancer but are responsible for genital warts, e.g. types 6, 11
b) High risk HPVs: (hr HPV) oncogenic (cause cancer).

Prevalence of HPV types varies geographically but hr- HPVs have been found in 99% of cervical cancer. The most common high risk for cervical cancer are types 16 and 18 with types 31 and 33 slightly less prevalent.