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Cervical Cancer

In an average year, 487 Ohio women develop invasive cervical cancer and 159 women die of the disease. The average annual incidence rate of cervical cancer in Ohio from 2003-2007 was 8.0 per 100,000 and the average annual mortality rate was 2.4 per 100,000. From 1991 to 2007, the rate of cervical cancer declined 8 percent for African American females (from 4.8 per 100,000 to 4.4 per 100,000) and 21 percent for white females (from 3.3 per 100,000 to 2.6 per 100,000). As Pap screening becomes more prevalent, precancerous lesions of the cervix will be detected far more frequently than invasive cancer.

Risk Factors

The primary cause of cervical cancer is infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), especially types 16 and 18. Behaviors that increase the risk of contracting HPV include the following:
  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Sex at an early age
  • Having a sexual partner who has multiple sexual partners
  • Having a male sexual partner who is not circumcised
Other risk factors include:
  • Age (Half the women who develop cervical cancer are 35-55, and 20 percent are diagnosed at 65 and older)
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) (Women whose mothers were given DES during pregnancy have slightly increased risk)
  • Race (African American women have 1.5 times the risk of non-Hispanic white women)
  • Ethnicity (Hispanic women have more than twice the risk of developing cervical cancer compared to non-Hispanic white women)
  • Long-term use of oral contraceptives (five or more years use, risk decreases once use discontinues)
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • No or irregular Pap screening
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Weakened Immunity

Early Detection and Prevention

Invasive cervical cancer is almost totally preventable by detection of precancerous lesions through screening with the Pap test. The American Cancer Society recommends that women begin cervical cancer screening within three years of having vaginal intercourse, but no later than age 21. Most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented if a woman avoids sexual behavior that leads to infection with HPV. The first vaccines to be developed to prevent the most common HPV infections have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are most effective if given before a woman becomes sexually active.

Ohio's Breast and Cervical Cancer Project


Ohio’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP) is a program that provides high quality breast and cervical cancer screening, diagnostic testing and case management services at no cost to eligible women in Ohio. 

For More Information

For more information on cervical cancer visit the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program's Resources Page.

Last Reviewed 5/17/12