Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix – the entrance to the womb from the vagina. Unlike many other cancers that primarily affect older people, nearly half the cases of cervical cancer appear between the ages of 35 and 55 years, when many women are actively involved in their careers and caring for their families. In the current member states of the European Union (EU-28), there were an estimated 34,000 new cases and more than 13,000 deaths due to cervical cancer in 2012. Rates of cervical cancer are particularly high in many of the countries to the east and south that acceded to the European Union after 2003, with approximately ten and seven times higher rates of death due to cervical cancer reported in Romania and Lithuania, respectively, than in Finland and Malta, the EU countries with the lowest rates. The extreme differences result primarily from the lack or inadequate implementation of organized cervical cancer screening programmes in many countries that have recently acceded to the European Union.

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common virus that is often spread during sex. Cervical cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages. If you have symptoms, the most common is unusual vaginal bleeding, which can occur after sex, between regular menstrual periods, or after menopause.

Abnormal bleeding doesn't mean that you definitely have cervical cancer, but it should be investigated by your doctor as soon as possible. If your doctor suspects that you might have cervical cancer, you should be referred to see a specialist.

If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it is usually possible to treat it effectively using surgery.