The National Cancer Institute defines cervical cancer as one that forms in tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope). Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
Here are some facts about cervical cancer:
o Cervical cancer is a leading cause of death among women in Latin America and the Caribbean
o Over 80,000 women in the Americas were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2008, and nearly 36,000 died from the disease
o The number of cervical cancer deaths in the region is projected to almost double to over 60,000 by 2030 if current trends continue
o The majority of the region’s cervical cancer deaths (88%) are in Latin America and the Caribbean, where cervical cancer ranks as the second-leading cause of cancer cases and deaths among women of all ages
o Cervical cancer death rates are seven times higher in Latin America and the Caribbean than in North America, highlighting inequities in health
o Comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and control programs are essential to reduce the burden of disease
o Cervical cancer can be prevented in adult women if precancerous lesions are identified through screening and then treated
o Some 70% of cancer cases could be prevented through HPV vaccination of adolescent girls
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