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Home > Resources > PAF Publications > PAF Guides & Major Publications > A Healthier African Am Community > Cancers > Cervical Cancer

African Americans and Cervical Cancer
Cervical Cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in African American women and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death. This is due to inadequate screening, delayed diagnosis and lack of access to care. Although cervical cancer most often affects young women, many women do not realize that the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age. It is important to continue having regular Pap tests at least until age 70 and possibly longer.

Signs and Symptoms:
Early cervical cancer usually has no symptoms. A woman usually develops symptoms when the cancer has spread. Such symptoms may include:
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or drainage
  • Bleeding or spotting
  • Painful sex

All of these signs and symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cervical cancer. If you have any of the above symptoms, you should see your health care professional right away. Ignoring these symptoms may allow the cancer to progress and lower the chance of survival.

Risk Factors:
  • Early sexual activity
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • History of sexually transmitted diseases
  • History of Human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Age



Prevention/Best Defense
  • Avoid risk factors
  • Use of condoms
  • Annual pelvic exams with Pap smear beginning at age 18 (earlier if sexually active)


Breast and cervical cancer screening is now more readily available to medically underserved women through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). This program provides early breast and cervical cancer detection testing to women without health insurance for free or at very little cost. Contact the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program at 1-888-842-6355 or contact your State Department of Health for information on how to contact the nearest program participant.