Cervical Canccer & HPV
What you need to know to protect yourself
Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervix — the lower, narrow portion of the uterus that joins with the vaginal canal. It is the second-leading cause of cancer among women worldwide, although it is not as common in the U.S. This is because cervical cancer is highly preventable — due in large part to routine pap testing. The majority of cervical cancers are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV), but other risk factors may also contribute.
Cervical cancer develops from abnormal cells in the cervical lining. Routine pap testing can identify these cells before they become invasive, making cervical cancer one of the most preventable cancers.
If you are sexually active, you will probably be exposed to HPV (human papillomavirus) at some point. Most strains of HPV are harmless, and will clear on their own. Some strains, known as "high risk" strains, are associated with cervical cancer.
Factors such as your overall health, sexual activity, and medical history can influence your risk for cervical cancer.
When caught early, nearly all cervical cancers are treatable. Regular pap testing, along with HPV testing when recommended, is the surest method of early detection.
In addition to getting regular pap tests, there's more you can do to safeguard yourself against other risks associated with cervical cancer.
Take a quick quiz to see how much you know about cervical cancer, HPV, and pap testing.
Find answers to questions women have asked about cervical cancer.