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Cervical Cancer

Risk Factors

No one knows the exact cause or causes of cervical cancer, and doctors cannot always explain why one woman will develop cervical cancer and another woman will not. However, doctors do know that a woman with certain risk factors may be more likely than others to develop cervical cancer. A cervical cancer risk factor is something that may increase a person's chance of developing the condition.
Specific risk factors for this condition include:
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Lack of regular Pap smears
  • Weakened immune system
  • Age
  • Sexual history
  • Cigarette use
  • Long-term use of birth control pills
  • Having many children
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES).
People who think that they may be at risk of cervical cancer should discuss this concern with their doctor.
(Click Cervical Cancer Risk Factors for more information.)

Screening for Cervical Cancer

Screening is very important because it can help doctors find abnormal cells before cancer develops. Finding and treating abnormal cells can prevent most cervical cancer. The number of women who are diagnosed each year has been decreasing for the past several decades. Doctors believe that this decrease is directly related to the success of cervical cancer screening. In order for women to reduce their risk of cervical cancer, doctors recommend that women have regular Pap tests. A Pap test, also known as a Pap smear or cervical smear, is a simple test that is used to look at the cervical cells.
(Click Cervical Cancer Screening for more information.)
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