Cervical Cancer Prevention Week: January 18‒24


Cervical Cancer Prevention Week aims to raise awareness of cervical cancer and advise people on how they can reduce their risk of the disease. Cervical cancer is when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way. The main cause of cervical cancer is long lasting (persistent) infection of certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a common virus, and in most cases your immune system clears the infection without any problems.

In the UK, girls and boys aged 12–13 years are offered the HPV vaccine as part of the NHS vaccination programme. It can help to protect against cancers caused by HPV, including cervical cancer. Professor Peter Sasieni’s team at Kings College London has predicted that cervical cancer rates in women aged between 25 and 29 will decrease by 55% thanks to the HPV vaccine. But that’s only if current vaccination rates are maintained and if women attend regular screening https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2019/01/24/preventing-cervical-cancer-how-a-screening-switch-and-hpv-vaccination-should-cut-cancer-rates/#:~:text=Figures%20released%20last%20year%20by,cancer%20rates%20in%20vaccinated%20women.

It is important that you consult your GP if you are concerned or have any of the symptoms described below.

Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms, or the symptoms may not be obvious, but the most common symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you, including after the menopause, after sex, or between regular periods
  • changes to vaginal discharge
  • pain or discomfort during sex
  • unexplained pain in your lower back or between your hip bones (pelvis)

It is important to remember that these symptoms usually occur for reasons other than cervical cancer. But it is also important to contact your GP straight away if you do experience any of them, so they can give you reassurance and support.

How common is cervical cancer?

Around 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. That’s more than 8 cases diagnosed every day. Cervical cancer is the 14th most common female cancer in the UK https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cervical-cancer/about.

Who gets it?

Cervical cancer is more common in younger women (25–29 years); in the UK (2015-2017) around a tenth (9%) of all new cervical cancer cases were diagnosed in females aged 75 and over https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cervical-cancer/about.

Trans men can also develop cervical cancer if they have not had an operation to remove their womb and cervix (total hysterectomy).

In the UK in 2015, 99.8% of cervical cancer cases were thought to be preventable  https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cervical-cancer/about.

Further information and support can be found at: