Who is affected by cervical cancer

It is estimated that there will be over 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer in the United States in 2008.1 Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women worldwide.2 The two groups of women with the highest rates of cervical cancer are those from ages 35 to 39 and those from ages 60 to 64.3

About half of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have never had a Pap test. Another 10% of women diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer have not had a Pap test in the last 5 years.3

The most significant risk factor for developing cervical cancer is a persistent infection with a high-risk type of the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Being infected with a high-risk type of HPV or having other risk factors increases the chance that a woman with an HPV infection will develop abnormal cervical cell changes that may need further treatment.

The incidence of cervical cancer has decreased in developed countries around the world because of an increase in the use of Pap test screening and appropriate follow-up treatment. In developing countries, the Pap test is not as readily available as it is in more developed countries. Because of this, abnormal cervical cell changes in women who live in developing countries may progress to cervical cancer without the benefit of detection and treatment.


  1. National Cancer Institute (2008). Cervical Cancer (PDQ): Prevention—Health Professional Version. Available online: http://www.nci.nih.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/cervical/healthprofessional.
  2. Sundar S, et al. (2008). Cervical cancer, search date November 2006. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
  3. Guintoli RL II, Bristow RE (2008). Cervical cancer. In RS Gibbs et al., eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 971–988. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Last Updated: September 5, 2008

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