Often referred to as a slow-growing cancer; cervical cancer develops in tissues between the uterus and the vagina, where it usually exhibits few signs or symptoms. It is usually only detected by cervical smear [cervical tissue examination [Pap test]], which has been responsible for reducing cervical cancer mortality by about 70% since 1955.
About 90% of all cervical cancer cases are caused by human papillomavirus [HPV] infection; however, it is widely believed that most women are infected with the virus throughout their lives [the virus does not mean it causes cancer]. Two types [strains] of human papillomavirus: 16 and 18 are the cause of approximately 70% of diagnosed cases. Other factors that may trigger infection include early sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, carrying more than two or three children, and smoking.
HPV is commonly prevalent among women between the ages of 18 and 59; it is estimated that approximately 25% of this age group has HPV and 15% of this age group will have high-risk strains. Although this age range can be further reduced to a greater risk of ages 20-24.
Studies have shown that the overall average age at which women are diagnosed with cervical cancer is 48 years old, and the likelihood of illness increases with age [up to 55 years [48-55 years]]. After the age of 55, the risk began to decrease significantly [about 50% of women aged 35-54 were diagnosed with cervical cancer, while women under 35 were diagnosed with 15%].
The mortality rate from cervical cancer is higher between 45 and 70 years old [70-year-old black women are 50% more likely to die of cervical cancer than white women of the same age]. This is why screening for this disease is important because 60%-80% of American women diagnosed with this disease have not actually been screened for 5 years before diagnosis [some women have never accepted Screened].
An HPV vaccine is now available [it is believed to be 100% effective against both HPV viruses, which account for 70% of diagnosed cases] and is usually targeted at girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 before sexual activity; although, sexual Activities usually begin many years before the age of 26. Information about HPV vaccines is available from most local family health clinics.