(cervical cancer)
  • Cervical cancer is caused by years of infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • The period between HPV infection and the development of cervical cancer is roughly 15 years
  • 11 in 170 women with HPV will develop cervical cancer
  • HIV-positive women are 7x more likely to develop cervical cancer than women without HIV




Cervical cancer is a malignant tumor of the cervix and is almost always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Almost everyone who is sexually active comes into contact with this virus. More than 80% of women clear up this virus themselves, but in 20% this does not happen. If the body does not clear HPV properly, abnormal cells can develop. Early detection of these abnormal cells prevents cervical cancer. Early forms of cervical cancer are also very treatable. Nevertheless, approximately 800 women in the Netherlands are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. It mainly occurs in relatively young women between the ages of 30 and 45. Ultimately, 1 in 170 women with an HPV infection will develop cervical cancer. Every year 200 to 250 women die from cervical cancer.


Symptoms that can occur with cervical cancer are: blood loss between two menstrual periods, contact bleeding (bleeding during or immediately after sex), bleeding after the menopause (for example after you have not had a period for a year), pain during sex or dark discharge .
Not all women with an abnormal Pap smear or an early form of cervical cancer have symptoms.


Cervical cancer is almost always caused by HPV. This virus is usually transmitted during sex. Condoms can partially protect you against HPV, but are not always effective. Many women have contracted HPV at some point in their lives. Your body usually clears the virus on its own. If the virus is not cleared up properly, cervical cancer can eventually develop. There are more than 200 HPV types. Of these, 15 are so-called 'high-risk types' and can cause cervical cancer.

HPV vaccinations

Since 2009, young girls in the Netherlands have been vaccinated against HPV. This vaccine is very effective in protection, especially if there has been no HPV infection before. This vaccine is less effective in women who have already been in contact with HPV. Extensive research is being done on this. The Dutch vaccine contains only two high-risk HPV types and this prevents a large part, but not all HPV infections. So screening is still necessary when experiencing complaints. Screening also occurs through population research.

 Risk group

Virtually everyone who is sexually active comes into contact with HPV. Women who do not clear the virus are at much greater risk. Their own defenses are not strong enough to clear up this virus. Women who use medication to inhibit their own defenses, such as with organ transplants or rheumatism, therefore have a higher risk.

HIV and cervical cancer

People with an HIV infection have a reduced immune system. As a result, they are less able to clear HPV from their body. This allows HPV to remain in the body for a long time, which can cause dysplasia (abnormal cells) on the cervix and later cervical cancer.
HIV indicator conditions are conditions or symptoms that occur more often in people with an underlying HIV infection than in people without an HIV infection. Cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer are among these HIV indicator conditions. If you have or have had cercival dysplesia and/or cervical cancer and have not been tested for HIV, it is advisable to ask your doctor or general practitioner for an HIV test. Do you find it difficult to ask for an HIV test? You may download a call card that will help you formulate your question.