Certain factors can make one woman more likely to get cervical cancer than another one. These are called risk factors. Risk factors for cervical cancer are listed below.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Some of the HPV types put women at higher risk for cervical cancer. These viruses can be transmitted by sexual contact. HPV infection is the major risk factor for cervical cancer.
- Smoking. Women who smokes has a higher chance of getting cervical cancer.
- Weakened immune systems. Women who have the HIV virus have a greater risk of getting cervical cancer. This is because HIV makes the immune system weaker, so the body will not effectively clear the HPV infection. Also, women who have to use medications that suppress the immune system, such as transplant recipients or women who have medical problems that require the use of high dose steroids, also have a greater chance of getting cervical cancer.
- Family or personal history of cervical cancer. If your mother or sister has had this cancer—or you’ve had it before yourself—your risk is higher than a woman without this history.
- Chlamydia infection. This is a sexually-transmitted bacterial infection that may increase your risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Oral contraceptives. A woman who has taken oral contraceptives for a long time may have a higher risk.
- Many pregnancies. A woman who has had many full-term pregnancies may be at greater risk.
- DES. If a woman’s mother took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) when she was pregnant, she has a greater chance of getting cervical cancer.
- Socioeconomic status. Many women with low incomes often don’t have access to healthcare. This may prevent regular screenings and increase their risk of cervical cancer.