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Descriptive Epidemiology

See chapter 7.13 page 302 in WCRF/AICR Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective.

pdf Cancers

Second most common cancer in women overall

Around half a million new cases in 2002

In general rates are higher in economically developing societies

Rates DECLINING in parts of the world with widespread screening programs

Highest incidence in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, south-east Asia including India and in Latin America

Developing countries account for 80% of cases.

Lower rates in North America, western Europe and a few nations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Strong inverse socioeconomic gradient in western countries

Survival rates: 50% of cases surviving 5 years.


Non-dietary risk factors for cervix cancer

Sexual transmitted infectious agents – human papilloma viruses (HPVs).

  • HPV 16 DNA is found in 60-70% of cervical cancers.
  • Important risk factors which results in exposure to HPV: early age at first intercourse, number of sexual partners, number of partners’ sexual partners.

Cigarette smoking increases the risk

  • may interact with HPV (allow HPV to persist in cervical epithelium) or
  • may cause DNA damage by itself or promote proliferation.

Screening = effective means of detecting early stages.

  • Treatment of early stages is associated with very high cure and survival rate. Treatment of precancerous stages will prevent cervical cancer!
  • Only 30-40% of untreated dysplasia/CIS will progress to invasive cancer.

Dietary risk factors

NO convincing evidence (not even probable evidence) that dietary factors modify cervical cancer risk

CONVINCING EVIDENCE - decreases risk:

  • None

CONVINCING EVIDENCE - increases risk:

  • None

PROBABLE EVIDENCE - decreases risk:

  • None

PROBABLE EVIDENCE - increases risk:

  • None



Most effective dietary means of preventing cervical cancer

NO convincing evidence


Discussion questions:

Why don't all smokers develop lung cancer?
Why don't all cirrhosis patients develop liver cancer?