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Cancer Snapshots: Disease Focused and Other Snapshots

  • Posted: 12/02/2013

A Snapshot of Cervical Cancer

Incidence and Mortality

Although cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates have declined nearly 50 percent in the United States over the past three decades, the disease remains a serious health threat. Incidence rates in Hispanic women are higher than those in non-Hispanic women. Despite recent declines, African-American women still have higher mortality rates than women of any other racial/ethnic group in the United States. Additional geographic and socioeconomic disparities in cervical cancer mortality and cervical cancer screening also exist.

Researchers have identified certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that are transmitted through sexual contact as the cause of nearly all cervical cancers. Cervical cancer is preventable and curable if detected early. Important strategies to reduce the risk of cervical cancer include screening with the Papanicolaou (Pap) test or cotesting with both the Pap test and a DNA test for HPV. Preventing HPV infection with the HPV vaccine also may reduce risk. Standard treatment options for cervical cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

It is estimated that approximately $1.6 billion1 is spent in the United States each year on cervical cancer treatment.

Line graphs showing U.S. Cervical Cancer Incidence and mortality per 100,000 Women, by race and ethnicity, between 1990-2010. In 2010, Hispanics have the highest incidence followed by African Americans, whites, and Asians/Pacific Islanders. In 2010, African Americans have the highest mortality, followed by Hispanics, whites, and Asians/Pacific Islanders.  Insufficient data available for time trend analysis American Indian/Alaska Natives.

Examples of NCI Activities Relevant to Cervical Cancer

Selected Advances in Cervical Cancer Research

Pie chart of NCI Cervical Cancer Research Portfolio.  Percentage of total dollars by scientific area.  Fiscal year 2012.  Biology, 10%.  Etiology/causes of cancer, 21%.  Prevention, 13%.  Early detection, diagnosis, and prognosis, 14%.  Treatment, 15%.  Cancer control, survivorship, and outcomes research, 23%.  Scientific model systems, 4%.
  • Women who test positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), have normal cervical cytology, and are not infected with oncogenic HPVs have incidence rates of cervical precancer similar to those of HIV-negative women, raising the possibility that recommendations for cotesting (Pap plus HPV testing) in the general population ultimately may be found appropriate for HIV-positive women as well. Published July 2012. [PubMed Abstract]
  • Most risk factors for cervical cancer that are not related to HPV infection itself—including use of oral contraceptives, having multiple children, and smoking—play a role in the transition from HPV infection to cervical precancer. Published November 2012. [PubMed Abstract]
  • HIV-infected women have a greater incidence of invasive cervical cancer compared with uninfected women, and incidence is higher in those with poorer immune status. Published December 2012. [PubMed Abstract]
  • HPV viral loads may be useful for determining which women over 35 years of age should receive colposcopy in locales where high-quality cytology-based screening is unavailable. Published May 2013. [PubMed Abstract]
  • See this PubMed list of selected free full-text journal articles on NCI-supported research relevant to cervical cancer. You can also search PubMed for additional scientific articles or to complete a search tutorial.

Trends in NCI Funding for Cervical Cancer Research

The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) investment2 in cervical cancer research increased from $76.8 million in fiscal year (FY) 2008 to $81.4 million in FY 2011 before decreasing to $72.6 million in FY 2012. In addition to this funding, NCI supported $14.3 million in cervical cancer research in FY 2009 and FY 2010 using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Bar graph of NCI Cervical Cancer Research Investment in 2008-2012: Fiscal year (FY) 2008, $76.8 million Cervical Cancer Funding of $4.83 billion Total NCI Budget. FY 2009, $70.8 million Cervical Cancer Funding of $4.97 billion Total NCI Budget. FY 2010, $76.5 million Cervical Cancer Funding of $5.10 billion Total NCI Budget.  FY 2011, $81.4 million Cervical Cancer Funding of $5.06 billion Total NCI Budget.  FY 2012, $72.6 million Cervical Cancer Funding of $5.07 billion Total NCI Budget.

Additional Resources for Cervical Cancer


  • 1 Cancer Trends Progress Report, in 2010 dollars.
  • 2 The estimated NCI investment is based on funding associated with a broad range of peer-reviewed scientific activities. For additional information on research planning and budgeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), see About NIH.

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