Cervical cancer is a cancer that starts in the cervix, which is at the lower part of the uterus (womb). Almost all cervical cancers are caused by persistent infection with one of the cancer-causing (or high-risk) human papillomavirus (HPV) types.
HPV is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 150 genotypes. Around 40 of these viruses infect the genital area. Some types of HPV can cause premalignant changes and malignant cancers of cervix.
HPV infection is usually found in person who has ever been sexually active. Most people with HPV infection do not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own. Some women with persistent high-risk HPV infection in the cervix will develop abnormal (pre-cancerous) cell changes. While the majority of these changes will regress to normal, some may progress to cancer over years.
The following figure illustrates the natural course of the development of normal cervical cells to cervical cancer:
Cervical cancer is common in Hong Kong and it is preventable with regular cervical screening. Please visit CHP website to view the latest statistics.