Cervical cancer is nearly always caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Explore the links on this page to learn about cervical cancer prevention, screening, treatment, statistics, research, clinical trials, and more.

Cervical Cancer Treatmen

  • Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the cervix.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for cervical cancer.
  • There are usually no signs or symptoms of early cervical cancer but it can be detected early with regular check-ups.
  • Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer include vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain.
  • Tests that examine the cervix are used to detect (find) and diagnose cervical cancer.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the cervix.

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).

Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. Before cancer appears in the cervix, the cells of the cervix go through changes known as dysplasia, in which abnormal cells begin to appear in the cervical tissue. Over time, the abnormal cells may become cancer cells and start to grow and spread more deeply into the cervix and to surrounding areas.

Cervical cancer in children is rare.

See the following PDQ summaries for more information about cervical cancer:

  • Cervical Cancer Prevention
  • Cervical Cancer Screening
  • Unusual Cancers of Childhood Treatment

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for cervical cancer.

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be at risk for cervical cancer.

Risk factors for cervical cancer include the following:

  • Being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). This is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer.
  • Being exposed to the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol) while in the mother’s womb.

In women who are infected with HPV, the following risk factors add to the increased risk of cervical cancer:

  • Giving birth to many children.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Using oral contraceptives (“the Pill”) for a long time.

There are also risk factors that increase the risk of HPV infection:

  • Having a weakened immune system caused by immunosuppression. Immunosuppression weakens the body’s ability to fight infections and other diseases. The body’s ability to fight HPV infection may be lowered by long-term immunosuppression from:
    • being infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
    • taking medicine to help prevent organ rejection after a transplant.
  • Being sexually active at a young age.
  • Having many sexual partners.

Older age is a main risk factor for most cancers. The chance of getting cancer increases as you get older.

There are usually no signs or symptoms of early cervical cancer but it can be detected early with regular check-ups.

Early cervical cancer may not cause signs or symptoms. Women should have regular check-ups, including tests to check for human papillomavirus (HPV) or abnormal cells in the cervix. The prognosis (chance of recovery) is better when the cancer is found early.

Childhood Cervical and Vaginal Cancer Treatment

The most common sign of cervical and vaginal cancer is bleeding from the vagina. Other conditions may also cause vaginal bleeding. Check with your child’s doctor if your child has vaginal bleeding.

Stages of Childhood Cervical and Vaginal Cancer

  • There is no standard staging system for childhood cervical and vaginal cancer.
  • There are three ways cancer spreads in the body.
  • Cancer may spread from where it began to other parts of the body.

Cervical Cancer Prevention

  • Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent cancer.
  • The following are risk factors for cervical cancer:
    • HPV infection
    • DES
  • In women who are infected with HPV, other risk factors add to the increased risk of cervical cancer:
    • Giving birth to many children
    • Using oral contraceptives for a long time
    • Smoking cigarettes
  • The following increase the risk of HPV infection:
    • Having a weakened immune system
    • Being sexually active at a young age or having many sexual partners
  • The following protective factors decrease the risk of cervical cancer:
    • Avoiding sexual activity
    • Getting an HPV vaccine
    • Using barrier protection during sexual activity
  • Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study ways to prevent cancer.
  • New ways to prevent cervical cancer are being studied in clinical trials.

Cervical Cancer Screening

  • Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the cervix.
  • Screening for cervical cancer using the Pap test has decreased the number of new cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths due to cervical cancer since 1950.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for cervical cancer.

What is Cancer?

  • Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

  • Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the risk of getting cancer. This can include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing substances, and taking medicines or vaccines that can prevent cancer from developing.

  • Cancer can cause many different symptoms. Most often these symptoms are not caused by cancer, but by benign tumors or other problems. If you have symptoms that last for a couple of weeks, your doctor will do a physical exam and order tests or other procedures to find out what is causing your symptoms.