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Cervical cancer


What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the cervix. Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infecting and turning healthy cells into abnormal pre-cancerous cells called, High-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion (HSIL) and Adenocarcinoma In Situ (AIS). If detected early these pre-cancerous cells can be effectively treated and are unlikely to develop into invasive tumours. The HPV vaccine and pap smears are helping to reduce cervical cancers.

You can access further information about cervical cancer, including risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment from Cancer Council Victoria. You can also call our trusted cancer nurses on 13 11 20 for support and to learn about our range of services for people affected by cancer.

The Victorian Cancer Registry also operates an interactive web portal, Data Explorer, which provides more trends and statistics than published here.

How common is cervical cancer?

In 2020, 203 Victorian females were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. Currently, invasive cervical cancer is diagnosed at a rate of 4.6 per 100,000 females. The median age at diagnosis of invasive cervical cancer is 48 (Figure 1 & 2). Accounting for 0.6% of all cancers diagnosed and 0.4% of all cancer-related deaths in 2020, invasive cervical cancer was the 19th most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 22nd most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Victorian females.


Figure 1: Distribution of invasive cervical cancer incidence in 2020, by age groups

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Figure 2: Distribution of invasive cervical cancer incidence in 2020, compared to the distribution of the Victorian population in 2020, by 5-year age brackets

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)

Cervical cancer morphology

Figure 4 provides a summary of the different types of cells (morphology) which have caused invasive cervical cancer among females. Most invasive cervical cancer, 61.3%, presents as Squamous cell carcinoma cell tumours.


Figure 4: Distribution of cervical cancer morphologies between 2011-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Geographical variance in cervical cancer by local government area

Figure 5 demonstrates variation in age-standardised incidence rates of cervical cancer, by local government areas. Darker shading indicates areas with higher rates of cervical cancer.


Figure 5: Variation in the incidence of cervical cancer for the period 2016-2020, by location of residence in Victoria

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Cervical cancer in people born overseas

Figure 6 shows the age standardised incidence rates of invasive cervical cancer in Australian-born Victorian females compared to other major migrant groups, over the five-year period 2016 to 2020. The highest age standardised incidence rate of 6.4 was observed in those born in the North-East Asia region and lowest rate of 1.5 was observed in people born in the Southern and Central Asia region.


Figure 6: Age standardised incidence rates and 95% confidence intervals for cervical cancer in Victorians born in Australia compared to Victorians born in other countries for the period 2016-2020


Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)



Cervical cancer five-year relative survival

Figure 7 shows the change in 5-year survival for cervical cancer, and the 5-year survival trend for all cancers over the same time period. It demonstrates that five-year relative survival has increased for invasive cervical cancer between 1985-1989 and 2015-2019 from 68% to 75%.

Figure 7: Trend in five year relative survival following diagnosis of cervical cancer in five year brackets, from the period 1985-1989 to 2015-2019

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)

This webpage was last updated in May 2022