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Cervical cancer

Cancer that forms in the tissues of the cervix and is mostly caused by human papillomavirus infections


Medicine that acts against bacterial infections. Penicillin is an example of an antibiotic.


A mass of abnormal cells which keep multiplying in an uncontrolled way.


Human papillomavirus. A group of viruses some of which can be sexually transmitted and can cause genital warts and cancer

Recent Events

1960: Methicillin developed

Methicillin was developed to treat infections caused by bacteria resistant to penicillin. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a term used to describe strains of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus which are resistant to all penicillin-type antibiotics.


Structure of methicillin

1979: Smallpox eradicated

Small pox eradicated

Courtesy CDC/Jean Roy

The last case of smallpox occurred in Somalia in 1977 following a global eradication campaign. Smallpox used to kill up to 30% of those who caught it. Most of the remainder suffered complications such as blindness or pockmarks - pitted scars on their skin. No effective treatment for smallpox was ever discovered.

2008: Cervical cancer vaccination programme introduced in UK

Infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer or genital warts. A national programme to vaccinate girls aged 12-13 against HPV commenced in September 2008. A three year programme to vaccinate older girls started at the same time.

The vaccination involves three injections given over a six month period. It has been shown to protect against two types of HPV which together cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer. In the UK more than 1000 women a year die from cervical cancer despite cervical screening being offered to all women aged 25 to 65.

Other types of HPV cause skin warts and verrucas.

Cervical cancer vaccination programme introduced in UK

Courtesy CDC/Judy Schmidt

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