Evidence shows that there is a link between human papillomavirus infection and cervical neoplasia.
Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina). Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is not considered to be passed down through family genes. Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of a virus—human papillomavirus or HPV. When a woman is infected with certain types of HPV, and the virus doesn’t go away on its own, abnormal cells can develop in the lining of the cervix. If these abnormal cells are not found early and treated, pre-cancers and then cervical cancer can develop.
Cervical cancer is the 5th most common cancer in women worldwide with approximately 500,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It’s sobering to think that a woman dies of cervical cancer approximately every 2 minutes.
In less developed countries, this type of cancer is the second most common in women and accounts for up to 300,000 annual deaths. 80% of the cases occur in low-income or middle-income countries. Unfortunately, many women from these areas don’t have access to routine exams such as Pap smears. Although the average age of diagnosis is 50, women as young as 17 can contract the disease. Pre-cancerous cells can take 10-15 years to develop into cancer so early detection is very important in treating cervical cancer.
Fortunately, more than 90% of this type of cancer is curable if the disease is detected and treated early enough.
Routine screening can greatly reduce the risks of contracting and dying from cervical cancer. It should be noted, that 85% of the deaths outside of the United States are due to the lack of access to any form of cervical screening systems.