- The main cause of cervical cancer is a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)
Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms or the symptoms may not be obvious.
The most common symptoms of cervical cancer are unusual vaginal bleeding, including after the menopause, after sex or between regular periods; changes to vaginal discharge; pain or discomfort during sex; and unexplained pain in the lower back or pelvis.
HPV is very common and usually goes away on its own without causing any problems.
But it sometimes causes changes in the cells of the cervix, which can develop into cervical cancer. On average this happens slowly, typically between five and 20 years.
Other risk factors include smoking, a weakened immune system, taking the oral contraceptive pill and a medicine called diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was given to some pregnant women from 1938 until 1971.
Cervical screening samples are examined for high-risk HPV, and if the virus is found, the sample will be looked at again for cell changes (Stock Image)
Currently in the UK, less than one in 100 women will develop cervical cancer in their lifetime.
Research predicts that someone who did not have the HPV vaccine and never went to cervical screening would have a lifetime risk of about 2 in 100.
Cervical cancer deaths in the UK fell by 75 per cent between 1971/73 and 2017/19, when adjusted for the changing age of the population.
Since the early 1990s, cervical cancer incidence rates have decreased by 25 per cent in females in the UK.
Incidence rates for cervical cancer in the UK are highest in females aged 30 to 34 and deaths are highest among those aged over 90-years-old.
The main cause of cervical cancer is a virus called high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV)
Some 51 per cent of patients diagnosed with cervical cancer survive for ten or more years.
Cervical screening samples are examined for high-risk HPV. If the virus is found, the sample will be looked at again for cell changes.
If there are no cell changes, the woman will be invited back for cervical screening in one year to make sure the HPV has cleared.
If high-risk HPV and cell changes are found, women will be invited for a colposcopy, which involves using a microscope to look at the cervix in more detail.