What is the prevalence of cervical cancer?

Updated: Feb 12, 2019
  • Author: Cecelia H Boardman, MD; Chief Editor: Warner K Huh, MD  more...
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Cervical cancer is the third most common malignancy in women worldwide. The frequency varies considerably between developed and developing countries, however: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in developing countries, but only the tenth most common in developed countries. Similarly, cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women in developing countries but is not even among the top 10 causes in developed countries. [40]

In the United States, cervical cancer is relatively uncommon. The incidence of invasive cervical cancer has declined steadily in the US over the past few decades; for example, since 2004, rates have decreased by 2.1% per year in women younger than 50 years and by 3.1% per year in women 50 years of age and older. [41] This trend has been attributed to mass screening with Pap tests. [42] Cervical cancer rates continue to rise in many developing countries, however.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that in the United States, 12,170 new cases of cervical cancer would be diagnosed in 2012. [41] Internationally, more than 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year; rates vary widely, ranging from an annual incidence of 4.5 cases per 100,000 in Western Asia to 34.5 per 100,000 women in Eastern Africa. [43] In industrialized countries with well-established cytology screening programs, the incidence of cervical cancer ranges from 4 to 10 per 100,000 women.

The incidence of CIN 2/3 disease in the US is about 150 per 100,000 women, with the peak incidence around 800 per 100,000 women in the 25-29 year age group. The incidence of abnormal cytology screens for all ages is an order of magnitude larger, at 7800 per 100,000 women.

Forouzanfar et al performed annual age-specific assessments of cervical cancer in 187 countries from 1980 to 2010. The global cervical cancer incidence increased from 378,000 cases per year in 1980 to 454,000 cases per year in 2010 (annual rate of increase, 0.6%). Cervical cancer death rates have been decreasing, but the disease still accounted for 200,000 deaths in 2010; in developing countries, 46,000 of these women were aged 15-49 years, and 109,000 were aged 50 years or older. [44]

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