A Guide to Cervical Cancer Survival Rates by Stage

Survival rates linked to early screening practices

Female nurse discussing medical chart with bald cancer patient in waiting room
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Cervical cancer used to be a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States. Thankfully, due to the increased use of routine Pap smear screening, the number of deaths has decreased dramatically, dropping by some 74 percent since 1955.

With that being said, over 12,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are reported each year in the U.S., of which as many as 4,000 or more will die.

Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing these often-avoidable deaths. Today, cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. With regular Pap smears, cervical cancer can be avoided in just about all diagnosed cases.

Factors Associated With the Development of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife, mostly in women younger than 50. By comparison, only around 15 percent of cervical cancers are found in women over 65. It is rarely seen in women under the age 20.

Hispanic women are most likely to get cervical cancer, followed by African-Americans, Asians, and Caucasians. Native Americans, by contrast, have the lowest risk of cervical cancer in the U.S.

Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is strongly associated with the development of cervical cancer, accounting for more than 95 percent of all diagnoses. Only a handful of the over 100 different types of HPV is linked to cancer.

HPV types 16 and 18 are considered to be at the highest risk.

There are several different vaccines available that can prevent transmission of these deadlier HPV types. Many public health officials believe that the widespread immunization of girls and young women under the age of 26 may result in even further drops in the cervical cancer rate over the coming generations.

Cervical Cancer 5-Year Survival Rates by Stage

There are different stages of cervical cancer, ranging from stage I through stage IV. The staging system measures how far the disease has progressed and suggests the survival rates over a five-year period.

  • Stage IA is considered micro invasive (very early cervical cancer). The five-year survival rate ranges from 96 to 99 percent. Treatment options for include surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy is not typically indicated.
  • Stage IB indicates that the cancer is visible without the use of a microscope. Five-year survival rates are between 80 to 90 percent. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
  • Stage II is when the cancer has spread beyond the uterus to adjacent tissue but has yet not reached the lower third of the vagina or the lateral wall of the pelvis. Five-year survival is 65 to 69 percent. Treatment includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
  • Stage III indicates that cancer has advanced beyond the parameters for stage II or has caused changes in the kidney. Five-year survival is 40 to 43 percent. Common treatments include chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Stage IV is when the cancer has left the pelvis and has spread to distant organs. The five-year survival rate is between 15 and 20 percent. All possible treatment options are used.