Causes of Cervical Cancer and Risk Factors

Humans have the tendency to think in cause and effect. Naturally when something as cancer strikes a person, they start to think about what was the cause. Cervical cancer is no different. Women may think about what may have caused such a disease, but doctors are not always able to explain the causes of it. On the other hand, doctors have been able to narrow down the risk factors that may contribute to this type of cancer. Certain women are more at risk of having cervical cancer if they have one or more of the risk factors. Being aware of these risk factors will help women to be alert to possible causes of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is generally caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a number of sexually transmitted viruses that can infect the cervix. When these infections do not go away, certain types of these viruses can cause the cells in the cervix to change. Therefore they produce cervical cancer. If these changed cervix cells are removed or killed before progressing too far, then cervical cancer will be prevented. These viruses are typically contracted by sexual contact and transmitted from person to person in this way. In fact nearly all adults have contracted HPV at one point in their life, but normally the viruses clear up on their own. There also exists a vaccine for females between the ages of 9 and 26 that helps to prevent two types of HPV from turning into cervical cancer.

causes of cervical cancer - human papillomavirusWhen HPV is combined with certain risk factors, the possibility of developing cervical cancer increases tremendously. A risk factor that many women may overlook is the lack of regular Pap tests. In these tests, doctors are able to detect abnormal cells and remove them before they progress to become cervical cancer cells. The body usually will get rid of HPV on its own. Women who use immune suppressing drugs or that are infected by diseases that affect the immune system such as HIV are unable to fight off HPV effectively therefore putting them at a higher risk. Since HPV is transmitted through sexually contact, women with many sexual partners or who had sex with a man who has had many sexual partners run a greater possibility of developing cervical cancer. Other risk factors also include using birth control pills for five or more years, having many children, or being exposed to a drug called Diethylstilbestrol (DES) which was given to pregnant women between the years of 1940 and 1971.

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. This virus along with other risk factors can increase the possibility of having cervical cancer in women. However, a woman who has an HPV infection or any of the other risk factors does not necessarily have cervical cancer. These risk factors may increase the risk of a woman having cervical cancer, but most women who have these factors never actually develop this type of cancer. It is only natural for a person to wonder what the cause of their cancer was. Knowledge about HPV and other risk factors will help to ease the mind.