Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer starts in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is the narrow passageway connecting the uterus to the vagina.

  • Cervical cancer accounts for 1.3% of all new female cancers and 1.1% of all female cancer deaths.
  • It is estimated that 1,350 women will develop cervical cancer in 2019 and that 410 will die from it.
  • 1 in 168 women is expected to develop cervical cancer during her lifetime, and 1 in 478 will die of it.
  • Before cervical cancer develops, the cells of the cervix change and become abnormal. This change is called dysplasia of the cervix. This precancerous condition can develop into cancer over time if not treated. However, most women with dysplasia do not develop cancer.

Risk Factors

The main risk factor for developing cervical cancer is the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) that infects the cervix.

Other risk factors for developing cervical cancer include:

  • Becoming sexually active at a young age; having many sexual partners, or having a sexual partner that has had many sexual partners.
  • Smoking.
  • An immune system weakened from taking drugs following a transplant, or having a disease such as AIDS.
  • The use of birth control pills for a long period of time.
  • Giving birth to many children.
  • Having taken diethylstilbestrol (DES), or being the daughter of a mother who took DES.
  • What can I do to reduce my risk of cancer?
  • How should I eat to reduce my risk of cancer?

Managing Cervical Cancer

Facts & Figures

Knowledge Development and Exchange

Initiatives, Strategies, Systems and Programs

The Cervical Cancer Prevention Network (CCPN) is an informal association of federal and provincial representatives with the relevant clinical professional bodies. Represented are the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Society of Cytology, the Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada, the Society of Canadian Colposcopists and the Canadian Nurses Association.

The purpose of the CCPN is to continue to reduce the morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer and its precursors in Canada by facilitating the implementation or enhancement of organized screening programs.

The CCPN has focused its attention on the development of the following three components of an organized screening program: effective recruitment strategies, information systems, and an integrated set of practice guidelines as the basis of a quality management program within the provincially-based screening programs.

Along with health, education and other partners, the Public Health Agency promotes the physical and psycho-social well being of Canadians through health promotion activities and cancer control strategies. Activities include:

  • The development of national guidelines, including vaccine recommendations.
  • Publication of national consensus statements and policy recommendations.
  • Development of surveillance initiatives and targeted research studies.
  • Coordination of the dissemination and exchange of information.

The Public Health Agency supports efforts to prevent and control sexually transmitted infections and their complications, including cancer and infertility.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) provides recommendations on the use of vaccines and has published its statement on HPV vaccine.

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