For all women undergoing screening for cervical or uterine cancer

What is cervical or uterine cancer?

There are 2 types of cancer that affect the uterus.
Cervical cancer affects the entrance to the uterus known as the cervix. Uterine cancer, also known as womb cancer or endometrial cancer, affects the uterine body.
Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by a sexually transmitted infection called the human papillomavirus (HPV). There is increased risk for women in their 20s and 30s who are sexually active. Uterine cancer is more common in postmenopausal women in their 60s, and obesity increases risk, as does lack of experience giving birth. Hypertension and type 2 diabetes have also been linked to the disease. Annually, about 10,000 people are diagnosed with and 3,000 die of cervical cancer, and 17,000 people are diagnosed with and 3,000 die of uterine cancer.


What are the symptoms of cervical and uterine cancer?

While there are almost no symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer, with uterine cancer, 90% of women experience irregular bleeding.


How is the screening performed?

Cervical cancer: A small brush or spatula-like instrument is wiped over the entrance to the uterus (the cervix) to collect cells. While the screening may cause a little bleeding, there should be no pain.

Uterine cancer: A long brush is inserted deeply into the uterus to collect cells, which may cause some pain and bleeding. Women with a narrow cervical canal may not be able to undergo screening if the brush cannot get through to the uterus or if the screening causes too much pain.


Who is eligible for screening?

Cervical Cancer Screening

Sapporo City offers cervical cancer screening to all women aged 20 and over. It is offered once every two years to women of even-numbered age. Since it is caused by a virus that is transmitted sexually, even young women in their teens are invited to participate if they are sexually active.
It has been shown that regular cervical cancer screening decreases the incidence of advanced cancer in people between the ages of 30 and 64. This is because the HPV infection of the cervix does not cause cancer immediately, but slowly transforms into cervical cancer over a period of about 10 years. Regular screenings allow for diagnosis and treatment at the early stages of dysplasia or precancerous lesions.

Uterine Cancer Screening

As previously mentioned, irregular bleeding is seen in 90% of women with uterine cancer. If you have had irregular bleeding for more than 3 weeks, or are postmenopausal but still experience bleeding, undergoing the uterine cancer screening is strongly advised.
If you don’t have irregular bleeding but undergo screening, you may bleed for several days. Also, the uterine opening narrows after menopause, so screening after menopause may cause pain.


Kaori Nagashima M.D.


Look here for information on HPV vaccine 


Last reviewed on Aug.11, 2023