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Cervical cancer incidence statistics

Incidence statistics for cervical cancer by country in the UK, age and trends over time are presented here. There are also data on lifetime risk, geography, morphology, ethnicity, and prevalence. 

Find out more about the coding and counting of this data

By country in the UK

Cervical cancer is the 12th most common cancer among females in the UK (2011), accounting for around 2% of all new cases of cancer in females.1-4

In 2011, there were 3,064 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK (Table 1.1). The crude incidence rate shows that there are around 10 new cervical cancer cases for every 100,000 females in the UK.

The European age-standardised incidence rates (AS rates) are significantly higher in Scotland compared with England and Wales (Table 1.1).1-4 The rates do not differ significantly between the other UK countries.1-4

Table 1.1: Cervical Cancer (C53), Number of New Cases, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, Females, UK, 2011 

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland UK
Cases 2,511 134 314 105 3,064
Crude Rate 9.3 8.6 11.6 11.4 9.5
AS Rate 8.7 7.8 10.7 11.1 8.9
AS Rate - 95% LCL 8.4 6.5 9.5 9.0 8.6
AS Rate - 95% UCL 9.0 9.1 11.9 13.2 9.2

Download this table XLS (31KB) PPT (132KB) PDF (17KB)

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits around the AS Rate

There was considerable geographical variation in cervical cancer incidence rates across the UK in the 1990s, with the highest rates in the north of England and Scotland, and the lowest rates in London, the east and south-east of England.5 Similarly, the latest analyses of cervical cancer incidence rates across the former cancer networks throughout the UK report significant variation.6 The highest incidence rates are in parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England, and the lowest rates are in the south and east of England.6-8

section reviewed 28/05/14
section updated 28/05/14

 

By age

Cervical cancer incidence is related to age, but does not follow the pattern of increasing incidence with age seen for most cancers (Figure 1.1).1-4 There are two peaks in the age-specific incidence rates: the first in women aged 30-34 (at 20 per 100,000 women) and the second in women aged 80-84 (at 13 per 100,000 women). The earlier peak is related to many women becoming sexually active in their late teens/early 20s,9,10 giving rise to an increase in human papillomavirus (HPV) infection - a necessary cause of cervical cancer.11

In the UK between 2009 and 2011, over three-quarters (78%) of cervical cancer cases were diagnosed in 25-64 year olds, and an average of 11% of cases were diagnosed in women aged 75 years and over. Women in England and Northern Ireland are currently offered cervical cancer screening at three to five year intervals between ages 25 and 64.12,13 For women in Wales, screening is offered between the ages of 20 and 64 every three years.14 In Scotland, women are offered screening every three years between the ages of 20 and 60.15

Figure 1.1: Cervical Cancer (C53), Average Number of New Cases Per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates, Females, UK, 2009-2011 

cases_crude_cervix.swf

Download this chart XLS (56KB) PPT (135KB) PDF (301KB)

section reviewed 28/05/14
section updated 28/05/14

 

Trends over time

Cervical cancer incidence rates have decreased overall in Great Britain since the mid-1970s (Figure 1.2).1-3 European AS incidence rates peaked in 1985-1987, decreased by 49% to their lowest point in 2003-2005 and have since increased by 8%. The dramatic decrease in rates since the late 1980s follows the introduction of the national cervical screening programme in the UK in 1988. Cervical screening detects and treats abnormal cells, and preventing many cases of cervical cancer from ever developing.8 The small and transient increase in incidence rates in 2009 is likely to be due to the diagnosis and subsequent death of celebrity Jade Goody from cervical cancer.16-18

Figure 1.2: Cervical Cancer (C53), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Females, Great Britain, 1975-2011

inc_asr_gb_cervix.swf

Download this chart XLS (48KB) PPT (176KB) PDF (34KB)

Cervical cancer incidence trends for the UK are shown in Figure 1.3.1-4  Over the last decade (between 2000-2002 and 2009-2011), the European AS incidence rates have remained relatively stable.1-4

Figure 1.3: Cervical Cancer (C53), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Females, UK, 1993-2011

inc_asr_uk_cervix.swf

Download this chart XLS (45KB) PPT (126KB) PDF (37KB)

Cervical cancer incidence rates have decreased overall for most of the broad age groups in Great Britain since the mid-1970s (Figure 1.4).1-3 Following the introduction of the national cervical screening programme in the late 1980s, incidence rates have decreased overall for all broad age groups over 35. The largest decreases have been in women aged 50-64 and 65-79, with European AS incidence rates decreasing by 63% and 66%, respectively, between 1985-1987 and 2009-2011. 

While incidence rates for women aged 25-34 initially decreased by 34% between 1985-1987 and 2000-2002, rates have since increased by 54% in this age group. This recent increase is thought to be unrelated to the change in screening policy in England in 2004, when the cervical screening age was increased from 20 to 25.19 Rather, the rise in rates is more likely to reflect increased HPV infection and smoking prevalence in this age group.8,9

Increased cervical screening attendance as a result of celebrity Jade Goody's death from cervical cancer in 2009 will also have contributed to the increase in the last few years.16-18

Figure 1.4: Cervical Cancer (C53), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates by Age, Females, Great Britain, 1975-2011

inc_asr_age_cervix.swf

Download this chart XLS (66KB) PPT (142KB) PDF (54KB)

section reviewed 28/05/14
section updated 28/05/14

Lifetime risk

The lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer in the UK is estimated to be 1 in 134 (calculated using 2008 data).20

section reviewed 18/10/13
section updated 01/06/12

By morphology

It has been estimated that around two thirds of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and around 15% are adenocarcinoma (with nearly all of the remainder of cases being registered as poorly specified).21-23 An analysis of cervical cancer incidence in Sweden has shown that an early age peak at 35-39 years is apparent for both SCC and adenocarcinoma.24

A study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has reported an increase in adenocarcinoma and a downward trend in SCC in many countries worldwide.25,26

section reviewed 18/10/13
section updated 01/06/12

 

In Europe and worldwide

Cervical cancer is the sixth most common cancer in Europe for females, and the 16th most common cancer overall, with around 58,400 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (4% of female cases and 2% of the total). In Europe (2012), the highest World age-standardised incidence rates for cervical cancer are in Romania; the lowest are in Switzerland. UK cervical cancer incidence rates are estimated to be the 12th lowest in Europe.30 These data are broadly in line with Europe-specific data available elsewhere.31

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide for females, and the seventh most common cancer overall, with more than 527,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (8% of female cases and 4% of the total). Cervical cancer incidence rates are highest in Eastern Africa and lowest in Western Asia, but this partly reflects varying data quality worldwide.30

Use our interactive map to explore the data for cervical cancer.

Variation between countries may reflect different prevalence of risk factors, use of screening, and diagnostic methods.

section reviewed 11/06/14
section updated 11/06/14

By ethnicity

Age-standardised rates for White females with cervical cancer range from 8.2 to 8.7 per 100,000. Rates for Black females are similar, ranging from 6.3 to 11.2 per 100,000, whereas the rates for Asian females are significantly lower, ranging from 3.6 to 6.5 per 100,000.29

Ranges are given because of the analysis methodology used to account for missing and unknown data. For cervical cancer, 11,579 cases were identified; 22% had no known ethnicity.

section reviewed 28/05/14
section updated 28/05/14

Prevalence

Prevalence refers to the number of people who have previously received a diagnosis of cancer and who are still alive at a given time point. Some patients will have been cured of their disease and others will not.

In the UK around 19,000 women were still alive at the end of 2006, up to ten years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer (Table 1.2).28

Table 1.2: Cervical Cancer (C53), One, Five and Ten Year Cancer Prevalence, Females, UK, 31st December 2006

1 Year Prevalence 5 Year Prevalence 10 Year Prevalence
Female 2,517 10,125 19,046

Download this table XLS (30KB) PPT (117KB) PDF (15KB)

Worldwide, it is estimated that there were more than 1.55 million women still alive in 2008, up to five years after their diagnosis.25

section reviewed 18/10/13
section updated 18/10/13

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References for cervical cancer incidence

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2013. Similar data can be found here:
    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/search/index.html?newquery=cancer+registrations.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, May 2013. Similar data can be found here:http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, June 2013. Similar data can be found here:
    http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/CancerData/OnlineStatistics/.
  5. Quinn M, Wood H, Cooper N, et al, eds. Cancer Atlas of the United Kingdom and Ireland 1991–2000. Studies on Medical and Population Subjects No. 68. London: ONS; 2005.
  6. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). Cancer Incidence and Mortality by Cancer Network, UK, 2005. London: NCIN; 2008.
  7. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). Cancer e-Atlas.
  8. Trent Cancer Registry. Profile of Cervical Cancer in England Incidence: Mortality and Survival. Sheffield: Trent Cancer Registry/NHS Cancer Screening Programmes; 2012.
  9. Foley G, Alston R, Geraci M, et al. Increasing rates of cervical cancer in young women in England: an analysis of national data 1982-2006. Br J Cancer 2011;105(1):177-84.
  10. Tripp J, Viner R. Sexual health, contraception, and teenage pregnancy. BMJ 2005;330(7491):590–593.
  11. Bosch FX, Lorincz A, Muñoz N, et al. The causal relation between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. J Clin Path 2002; 55(4):244-265.
  12. NHS Screening programme.
  13. Northern Ireland Cervical Screening Programme.
  14. Cervical Screening Wales.
  15. Scottish Cervical Screening Programme.
  16. Lancucki L, Sasieni P, Patnick J, et al. The impact of Jade Goody's diagnosis and death on the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. J Med Screen 2012;19(2):89-93.
  17. NHS Cancer Screening Programmes. Audit of invasive cervical cancer, National report 2007-2011. May 2012.
  18. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). Cervical Cancer Incidence and Screening Coverage. London: NCIN; 2011.
  19. Patel A, Galaal K, Burnley C, et al. Cervical cancer incidence in young women: a historical and geographic controlled UK regional population study. Br J Cancer 2012;106(11):1753-9.
  20. Cancer Research UK Statistical Information Team. Statistics on the risk of developing cancer, by cancer type and age. Calculated using 2008 data for the UK using the ‘Adjusted for Multiple Primaries (AMP)’ method (Sasieni PD, Shelton J, Ormiston-Smith N, et al. What is the lifetime risk of developing cancer?: The effect of adjusting for multiple primaries. Br J Cancer 2011:105(3) 460-5). http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/incidence/risk/.
  21. Vizcaino AP, Moreno V, Bosch FX, et al. International Trends in Incidence of Cervical Cancer: II Squamous-cell Carcinoma. Int J Cancer 2000;86(3):429-435.
  22. Vizcaino AP, Moreno V, Bosch FX. International trends in the incidence of Cervical Cancer: Adenocarcinoma and Adenosquamous cell Carcinomas. International Journal of Cancer 1998;75(4):536-545.
  23. Quinn M, Babb P, Brock A, et al. Cancer Trends in England & Wales 1950-1999. London: Office for National Statistics; 2001.
  24. Hemminki K, Li X, Mutanen P. Age-incidence relationships and time trends in cervical cancer in Sweden. European Journal of Epidemiology 2001;17(4):323-8.
  25. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No.10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2010. Available from http://globocan.iarc.fr.
  26. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). World Cancer Report 2008. Lyon: IARC; 2008.
  27. European Age-Standardised rates calculated by the Cancer Research UK Statistical Information Team, 2011, using data from GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, IARC, version 1.2. http://globocan.iarc.fr.
  28. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). One, five and ten-year cancer prevalence. London: NCIN; 2010.
  29. National Cancer Intelligence Network and Cancer Research UK. Cancer Incidence and Survival by Major Ethnic Group, England, 2002-2006. 2009
  30. Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed December 2013.
  31. Ferlay J, Steliarova-Foucher E, Lortet-Tieulent J, et al.Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. European Journal of Cancer (2013) 49, 1374-1403.
Updated: 11 June 2014