Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

Virtually all cervical cancers are shown to be caused by infection with high-risk HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. However, HPV is very common and most women with HPV will not get a cervical disease that requires treatment. Other risk factors for cervical cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Weakened immunity due to HIV infection or taking medicines for chronic disease (i.e. lupus or following an organ transplant)
  • Having sex at an early age

Women are encouraged to get regular gynecologic exams that include Pap testing as a means to identify whether they are at an increased risk. Failure to get regular exams takes away the opportunity for an early diagnosis through cervical cancer screening.