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Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

Lack of Regular Pap Tests
Cervical cancer is more common among women who do not have regular Pap tests. The Pap test helps doctors find precancerous cells and treat precancerous cervical changes, thus helping to prevent cancer.
 
Weakened Immune System
Women who have a weakened immune system may have a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical cancer. A weakened immune system can develop from:
 
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Infection
  • Drugs that suppress the immune system.
 
For women who have a weakened immune system, doctors suggest regular screening for cervical cancer.
 
Age
Cancer of the cervix occurs most often in women over the age of 40.
 
Sexual History
Women who have had many sexual partners and women who have had sexual intercourse with a partner who has had many sexual partners may be at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer. These women are at a greater risk because they have a higher-than-average risk of HPV infection.
 
Smoking Cigarettes
Women with an HPV infection who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of cervical cancer than women with an HPV infection who do not smoke.
 
Long-Term Use of Birth Control Pills
Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years) may increase the risk of cervical cancer among women with an HPV infection.
 
Having Many Children
Studies suggest that giving birth to many children may increase the risk of cervical cancer among women with an HPV infection.
 
Diethylstilbestrol
Diethylstilbestrol (DES) may increase the risk of a rare form of cervical cancer in daughters exposed to this drug before birth. DES is a drug that was once prescribed during pregnancy to prevent miscarriages or premature deliveries. It was given to some pregnant women in the United States between 1938 and 1971. However, it is no longer given to pregnant women.
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