1. ITV Report

Ten facts about cervical cancer

More than 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year Photo: Fran Hergessel

Ten facts about cervical cancer:

  • Every year in the UK more than 3000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Nearly a third of them will be killed by the disease.

  • The most common cause of cervical cancer is the Human papillomavirus (HPV) which can be spread not only through intercourse but skin-to-skin contact in the genital area.

  • HPV is a very common virus. Four out of five sexually active women will be infected in their lifetime but only two strains of the virus have the highest risk of causing cervical cancer.

  • Common symptoms include: bleeding in between periods, bleeding after intercourse, new bleeding after menopause, unusual discharge, lower back pain, pain or discomfort during intercourse

  • Risk factors for developing cervical cancer are: smoking, weakened immune system, taking contraceptive pill for more than five years, having children - the more children you have the greater the risk

  • Diagnosis is usually by smear test which takes cells from the cervix and looks for abnormalities

  • The NHS provide a national cervical screening programme for women between the ages of 25 and 64. Women between 25 and 49 should be screened every three years and women between 50 and 64 should be screened every five years.

  • If diagnosed with cervical cancer, depending on how advanced it is, treatment ranges from laser treatment to radiotherapy and chemotherapy

  • A vaccination against HPV, which causes cervical cancer and genital warts, was given to girls aged 12 and 13 since September 2008.

  • Bust a myth: The strains of HPV which cause genital warts are not the same as those which cause cervical cancer