Cervical cancer

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 45, after breast cancer. More than 500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. About half of these women die from the effects of the disease. While cervical cancer is preventable and 100% curable with timely diagnosis and treatment of symptoms.

What causes cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This virus can invade the cells of the cervix, causing the development of abnormal cells. When these abnormal cells grow and develop into cancer cells, it is called cervical cancer.

What is the Human Papillomavirus?

An HPV infection is the most common Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) worldwide, affecting about 80% of all people at some point in their lives. HPV lives on the skin, and therefore around the genitals. It can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. For this reason, every woman who is sexually active is at risk of being infected with HPV. Most people do not notice any symptoms and transmit it to others without realizing it.

Not every HPV infection leads to cervical cancer. There are about 100 known types of HPV, which are classified into low-risk and high-risk groups. Only the high-risk HPV types can cause cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer treatment and HPV

HPV vaccination can prevent up to 90% of cervical cancer cases. In developed countries, more and more young girls are getting vaccinated with the HPV vaccine before their first sexual contact. After three vaccinations, they are protected against many of the HPV viruses for years.

There is no cure for HPV. Therefore, it is important to detect HPV-caused abnormalities at an early stage in order to intervene in time. The national policy on the screening of cervical abnormalities differs per country. Screening can be performed by HPV testing, a PAP smear or visual inspection with acetic acid.

Unlike women in developed countries, women in developing countries usually have no access to care, or any programs of cervical cancer prevention. This is why the Female Cancer Foundation applies the See & Treat method.