Cervical Cancer And Its Risk Factors

Cervical cancer develops when the cells in the cervix (the lower part of a woman’s uterus) become abnormal and rapidly multiply. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a special type of virus.

Signs And Symptoms

Some of the symptoms associated with cervical cancer are as follows:

  1. Abnormal bleeding, such as bleeding between menstrual periods, after sex, after a pelvic exam, or after menopause
  2. Increased discharge with unusual color, consistency, or smell
  3. Urinating more frequently
  4. Painful urination
  5. Pelvic pain

Precancerous lesions may progress to cervical cancer if left untreated. Their progression usually takes 10-20 years.

Risk Factors

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It is a group of more than 150 related viruses with only a handful is considered to be “high risk.” HPV can spread from one person to another during skin-to-skin contact and infect cells on the surface of the skin, and those lining the mouth, throat, anus.

Without treatment, the body can clear up to 90 percent of HPV infections by itself. However, there were times wherein it doesn’t and the virus is able to change the cells of the cervix; left untreated, this can advance to cancer.

Birth Control Pills

According to the National Cancer Institute, the use of oral contraceptives for five or more years can slightly increase a woman’s risk of cervical cancer. Experts believed that the hormones used in birth control (progesterone and estrogen) may possibly make cervical cells more prone to HPV infection, affect their ability to clear the infection or make it easier for HPV to cause abnormal cell changes.


Smoking makes a person, as well as those around them exposed to chemicals that are dangerous to the body. These toxic chemicals are absorbed through the lungs and are transported to the body via the bloodstream.

When it comes to women smokers, they have a higher risk of getting cervical cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Experts have found that tobacco by-products are present in the cervical mucus of a woman who smokes and this can cause damages to the DNA of cervix cells and may possibly lead to the development of cervical cancer.

Not Eating Enough Fruits And Veggies

We all know that our way of living has a big role in our overall health. A healthy lifestyle with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that contains antioxidants and numerous nutrients can help us fight off infections like HPV.

Being Younger Than 17 At The First Full-Term Pregnancy

Studies have found that women who were younger than 17 years when they had their first full-term pregnancy are almost 2 times more likely to get cervical cancer later in their life as compared to those who were pregnant at the age of 25.

A Weakened Immune System

Our immune system destroys and slows the growth and spread of cancer cells. However, it would be hard for us to fight infection if we have a weak immune system. For instance, a woman with HIV has a weakened immune system and this puts her at higher risk for HPV infection and a cervical pre-cancer might develop into invasive cancer faster than it normally would.