10 Factors that Put You at Risk for Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is one of the common cancers for women, ranking fourth behind breast, colorectal, and lung cancers respectively. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with this cancer is 92% when caught early on. However, that survival rate plummets to just 17% when the cancer has metastasized, or spread to other areas of the body.

Clearly, it pays to catch this cancer early on; part of cancer prevention and detection lies in knowing personal risk factors. Experts commonly cite the following as risk factors for cervical cancer…

10. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 

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HPV is widely considered the first step towards cervical cancer, despite the condition itself being generally harmless and treatable. The World Health Organization attributes 70% of cervical cancer cases to HPV types 16 and 18. 

However, HPV is not the only STI that can lead to cervical cancer…

9. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

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Sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), formerly known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), can increase the risk of this cancer. These STIs include HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. Specifically, they increase the risk of developing both HPV and cervical cancer, especially when left untreated. Women with HIV in particular are 4 to 5 times more likely to suffer from invasive cervical cancer than those without HIV.

Closely related is the following risk factor…

8. Engaging With Many Sexual Partners 

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Not only does having multiple sexual partners (or if a partner has had a similar amount of sexual partners) put people at risk for STIs, but it can also make them prone to cervical cancer.

Of course, when sexual activities begin can also be a risk factor…

7. Early Sexual Activity

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Italian gynecologist Dr. Silvia Franceschi reports that girls who become sexually active in their teens have an increased risk of getting HPV, and developing cervical cancer in the future.

Being resistant to conditions is truly a precious commodity, as our next factor proves…

6. A Weak Immune System

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Having poor health in general makes people vulnerable to a host of diseases. If their immune system has been weakened by HPV and other health conditions, the higher their chances of getting cervical cancer will be.

Sometimes, personal habits can increase risk for cancer…

5. Smoking

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One study shows that smoking can highly affect the DNA of cervical cells; this damage can trigger cervical cancer. Therefore, women who smoke frequently are twice as vulnerable to this condition.

Even hormonal contraceptives can put people at risk…

4. Taking Oral Contraceptives

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Research published in the Lancer notes that frequent intake of oral contraceptives through the years increases the risk of getting cervical cancer: This risk, however, declines when usage stops altogether. As such, it’s no wonder many people explore non-hormonal birth control methods.

However, the alternative may also increase risk of cervical cancer…

3. Pregnancy

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Multiple full-term pregnancies may cause hormonal changes and weaken the immune system, which can make women prone to HPV infections or cancer growth. Those who have had pregnancies when they were aged 20 or younger are also at risk for late-life cervical cancer. 

Unfortunately, not all risk factors are within people’s control…

2. Age

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Women who are in their mid-30s to their late 40s are at high risk of developing this condition, according to the American Cancer Society.

Unfortunately, age isn’t the only uncontrollable risk factor…

1. Family History and Genetics

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Those who have a close family member who developed cervical cancer are at heightened risk for developing it themselves. Some experts hypothesize that this risk is because of a rare genetic trait that makes people more susceptible to HPV infections. In turn, these HPV infections make people more susceptible to cervical cancer.

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