According to the World Health Organization, the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes almost 90% of the infections, is the primary cause of cervical cancer. Furthermore, HPV can lead to abnormal growth of cervical cells or cervical dysplasia since it is a viral infection that affects the reproductive tract of women.
Cervical Cancer Causes
This infection can re-occur and affect sexually active women and men since the virus can transfer through skin to skin contact. Furthermore, it does not require that there is a full penetration during sexual intercourse for it to transfer. Hence, doctors recommend that young women receive the vaccine for HPV, namely Gardasil. Nevertheless, not all HPV infections in women result in cervical cancer.
Other minor causes of cervical cancer are:
- Long-term taking of birth control pills
- Having multiple sexual partners
- A weak immune system
- Long-term mental stress
- Smoking which includes both passive and non-passive smokers
- Engaging in early sexual contact
- Pre-cancerous changes
Most cervical cancers begin in the cells existing in the transformation zone. The transformation zone is where the glandular cells of the endocervix (part of the cervix closest to the body of the uterus) meet the squamous cells of the exocervix (part next to the vagina). Furthermore, this happens gradually where the normal cells of the cervix develop pre-cancerous changes. (1)
Doctors can detect these changes when a patient receives a pap smear test. However, not all pre-cancerous changes can result in cervical cancer because some can disappear without the need for any treatment or remedy. However, for some women, the pre-cancerous changes can grow to cervical cancer within a short period.
Cervical Cancer Risk Factors
Several cervical cancer risk factors increase the likeliness of developing the disease. However, those without any of the risk factors rarely develop cervical cancer.
Read below for the most common risk factors:
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is one of the key risk factors for cervical cancer. It is a group of more than 150 related viruses, and most of the viruses cause a type of growth known as warts.
These warts can cause:
- Infection of the cells on the surface of the skin and those lining the walls of the genitals.
- Spread from one person to another during skin-skin contact.
- Cause warts on different parts of the body
Low-risk types of HPV can cause the growth of warts on female and male genitals while high-risk types of HPV are strongly linked to cancer of the genitals in both women and men.
Active, passive and second-hand smokers are exposed to numerous cancer-causing chemicals that lead to infection of the lungs. These harmful chemicals are then carried throughout the body in the bloodstream. Women who are smokers are more likely to get cervical cancer than non-smokers. According to researchers, smoking makes the immune system less effective in fighting HPV infections.
Infection With Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a common kind of bacteria that can infect the reproductive system.It can also transfer from one person to another through sexual intercourse. Furthermore, it may lead to the inflammation of the pelvis, which, in turn, could lead to infertility. Lastly, women whose blood tests show an infection of chlamydia have a higher risk of cervical cancer. (2)
A Weakened Immune System
Weak immune system is brought about by Human immunodeficiency virus (HPV), a virus that causes AIDS. It exposes the women to a higher risk of getting HPV and cervical cancer.
Having Full-Term Pregnancies
Lastly, having 3 or more full-term pregnancies increases the risk of cervical cancer.
Other risk factors For cervical cancer
- Early full-term pregnancy
- A family history of cervical cancer
- Long-term use of contraceptives
- Use of intrauterine device (IUD)
- A diet low in fruits and vegetable
- Long-term effect of Diethylstilbestrol (DES)