About Cervical Cancer

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer, or cancer of the cervix, is a deadly illness that women can easily prevent in most cases, especially while they are young. By taking the right precautions, women can stop a disease that currently kills more than 4,000 women each year in the U.S.

Taking advantage of these precautions is important because more than 12,000 women are still diagnosed each year with cervical cancer, which also can cause disability, financial hardship and the inability to bear children. African-American women are 50 percent more likely than white women to die from cervical cancer – and have the highest death rate of any group of women in the United States.

Where is the cervix?

The cervix is the lower part of the womb, or uterus, that is connected to the vagina.

What causes cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). While HPV usually causes no harm, it can cause abnormal cell changes in the cervix that can gradually result in cancer. These abnormal cells must be detected and treated to prevent cancer.

What kinds of factors increase the risk of cervical cancer?

HPV is transmitted primarily through sexual contact; therefore, a woman has an increased risk of cervical cancer if she or her partner has a personal history of multiple sex partners and having sex at a young age. Other risk factors are not having regular Pap tests, smoking, a weak-immune system caused by HIV infection or an organ transplant, and a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).


cervix diagram