Cervical Cancer Home > Cervical Cancer Causes

Doctors do no not know exactly what causes cervical cancer. However, studies have found a number of risk factors that may increase a woman's risk. For example, cervical cancer may be linked to HPV infection, infrequent Pap tests, weakened immune system, and age.

An Introduction to Cervical Cancer Causes

No one knows the exact cause or causes of cervical cancer, and doctors can seldom explain why one woman will get cervical cancer and another woman will not. However, cervical cancer research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop cervical cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.

Know the Risk Factors

Studies have found a number of factors that may increase the risk of cervical cancer. Specific cervical cancer risk factors include:
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Lack of regular Pap tests
  • Weakened immune system
  • Age
  • Sexual history
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Taking birth control pills for a long time
  • Having many children
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES).
(Click Cervical Cancer Risk Factors for more information.)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a group of viruses that can infect the cervix and can be passed from person to person through sexual contact. HPV infections are very common and are considered to be the main risk factor for cervical cancer. Most adults have been infected with HPV at some time in their lives.
Lack of Regular Pap Tests
Cervical cancer is more common among women who do not have regular Pap tests. Pap tests help doctors find precancerous cells (cells that are not cancerous but will likely become cancerous if left untreated) and treat precancerous cervical changes, thus helping to prevent cancer.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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