Causes of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer develops very slowly. There is first the initial precancerous stage called dysplasia which can be found out by a regular pap smear. At this stage, the condition is treatable. If caught in time, the precancerous stage can be treated with laser surgery or procedures such as cauterization and cryosurgery. It is only when these precancerous changes remain undetected and the cancer spreads to the other tissues and organs in the body, that those symptoms become evident. This is why it is imperative for women to have regular pap smears to detect any abnormalities at the earliest.

The cause for almost all types of cervical cancers is the HPV or Human Papilloma virus. The virus is spread through sexual contact and while some strains of the virus may cause diseases such as genital warts, some strains could lead to cervical cancer. The HPV infection then causes an abnormal growth of cervical cells.

Experts still do not know why the HPV causes cervical cancer in some women and not in others. However, there are some risk factors that increase a woman’s chance of developing the disease. Risk factors of cervical cancer include:

  • Women with multiple sexual partners
  • Women engaging in sex with a man who has multiple sexual partners
  • Having sex at an early age
  • Smoking
  • Participating in high-risk sexual activities
  • Low socio-economic status (where regular Pap smears may not be conducted)
  • Weak immune system
  • Women with mothers who took the drug DES in the 1960s to prevent miscarriage
  • Lack of regular Pap smear tests
  • HIV
  • Taking drugs that suppress the immune system
  • Taking birth control bills for five years or more
  • Having many children (five or more)
Keep in mind that having any of the above risk factors does not automatically mean a woman will develop cervical cancers.