CERVICAL CANCER & HPV
What is cervical cancer?
A type of cancer that develops in a woman's cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina). Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women in Malaysia. The good news is that cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. 99% of cervical cancer is caused by infection with high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types.
How is HPV linked to cervical cancer?
HPV is so common that most sexually active people will be infected at some point in their life, as HPV is spread through genital skin to skin contact during sex.
90% of women and 90% of men will have HPV in their lifetime.
HPV usually has no symptoms. Often it is cleared from the body naturally.
98% of people infected with genital HPV will clear the virus naturally within 5 years.
Yet some types of HPV (known as the high-risk types) may cause cervical cancer if it is not cleared from the body.
There are 14 HPV types that cause 99% of cervical cancers.
Having high-risk HPV does not mean that you will get cancer! For most women, high-risk HPV infection is cleared before it causes any problems. But sometimes the infection persists for a long time and abnormal cells may develop in the cervix. It takes 10-15 years for a persistent infection to progress to cancer, a very slow process. So early detection and treatment of any abnormal cells can prevent cervical cancer.