About Cervical Cancer

Each year, more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States, and nearly 4,000 die. Most of these deaths could be prevented if women had tests (PAP test) to detect cervical precancer or cancer early. The most important risk factor for developing cervical cancer is persistent infection with a high risk type of Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is short for Human Papillomavirus, a group of viruses that are transmitted to both males and females through genital contact. These viruses can cause small genital or anal warts (papillomas), as well as changes that can progress to cancer. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer and in 2006 the FDA licensed the first vaccine against the virus, which is now recommended for women ages 11 to 26. Since HPV infection is so common, it is important to learn about HPV screening and prevention.