Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer involves changes to the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus (womb). The cervix is sometimes called the neck of the womb.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide and the 13th most commonly diagnosed cancer among Australian women. The incidence of cervical cancer has significantly decreased since the National Cervical Screening Program began in 1991 and the National human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program was introduced in 2007. In 2021, it is estimated that there were 913 cases of cervical cancer and 237 deaths in Australia.

Signs and Symptoms: 

In the early stages of cervical cancer, there may be no or minor symptoms.

Common early symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, (such as bleeding after sex, bleeding after menopause, or bleeding between periods), unusual vaginal discharge or pain during sex.

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by persistent infection with high-risk types of the human papillomavirus (HPV); this is the biggest risk factor for cervical cancer.

Find out more about cervical cancer symptoms.


If you have HPV, this does not mean you have cervical cancer. Cervical cancer develops over a long time period (usually over 10 years) and is a rare outcome of HPV infection.

If you are diagnosed with cervical cancer, your doctor will explain the different treatments for cervical cancer.


Women and people with a cervix aged 25 – 74 years, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, should have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years, as this remains the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer.

You can choose to collect your own sample, or your health care provider can do it for you.

Find out more about the National Cervical Screening Program and having a cervical screening test.

Find out more about cervical cancer types, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and support.