The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007, about 11,150 cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. Some researchers estimate that non-invasive cervical cancer (carcinoma in situ) is about 4 times more common than invasive cervical cancer.
About 3,670 women will die from cervical cancer in the United States during 2007. Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The cervical cancer death rate declined by 74% between 1955 and 1992. The main reason for this change is the increased use of the Pap test. This screening procedure can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops. It can also find early cancer in its most curable stage. The death rate from cervical cancer continues to decline by nearly 4% a year.
Cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife. Half of women diagnosed with this cancer are between the ages of 35 and 55. It rarely occurs in women younger than 20. Although cervical cancer does affect young women, many older women do not realize that the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age. Slightly over 20% of women with cervical cancer are diagnosed when they are over 65. It is important for older women to continue having regular Pap tests at least until age 70, and possibly longer. See the section,
"Can Cervical Cancer Be Prevented?" for more specific information on current American Cancer Society screening recommendations.
Cervical cancer occurs most often in Hispanic women; the rate is over twice that in non-Hispanic white women. African-American women develop this cancer about 50% more often than non-Hispanic white women.
The 5-year relative survival rate for the earliest stage of invasive cervical cancer is 92%. The overall (all stages combined) 5-year survival rate for cervical cancer is about 72%.
The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Five-year rates are used to produce a standard way of discussing prognosis. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years. Five-year relative survival rates exclude patients dying of other diseases. This means that anyone who died of another cause, such as heart disease, is not counted.
Keep in mind that 5-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed and initially treated more than 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment often result in a more favorable outlook for recently diagnosed patients.