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Causes and Risk Factors of Cervical Cancer

Are You at Risk for Cervical Cancer?

By

Updated July 09, 2009

Researchers have identified HPV as the most common cause of cervical cancer. Although several cervical cancer risk factors have been identified, HPV remains the strongest link to the cause of cervical cancer.

What You Need to Know About HPV

Human papillomavirus, or HPV for short, is the current leading cause of cervical. There are over 100 different strains of the the virus, but only a few strains are considered to be high risk.

The HPV test is a method for many to determine if they are infected with HPV, and if it is a high risk strain. The HPV test is most often done in women over 30, along with a regular Pap smear.

Approval of Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, has made the virus preventable , in hopes of eliminating cervical cancer. Another HPV vaccine, Cervarix, may soon be approved by the FDA.

Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

  • Giving birth to many children.
  • Having many sexual partners.
  • Having first sexual intercourse at a young age.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Oral contraceptive use ("the Pill").
  • Weakened immune system


Early cervical cancer may not cause noticeable signs or symptoms. Women should have regular check-ups, including a Pap smear to check for abnormal cells in the cervix. The earlier cervical cancer is detected, the more option available for treatment.

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