Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the cervix, the lowest portion of the uterus that links to the vagina. Cervical cancer is largely caused by long-term infection with high-risk strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), although other variables also play a role. Understanding the reasons is critical for preventing, detecting, and managing this condition.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Persistent infection with specific high-risk HPV strains is the leading cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a group of viruses that spread through sexual contact. While many HPV infections cure on their own, chronic infections with high-risk strains, such as HPV-16 and HPV-18, can cause cervical cancer. HPV infects cervix cells, altering the DNA and perhaps leading to the creation of malignant cells.
Weakened Immune System
A compromised immune system can raise the risk of cervical cancer. Conditions such as HIV/AIDS and the use of immunosuppressive medicines following organ donation might impair the body’s capacity to combat HPV infections. Individuals with compromised immune systems may be less capable of removing the virus, allowing it to survive and potentially progress to cervical cancer.
Smoking is a well-established risk factor for cervical cancer. Tobacco smoke contains numerous carcinogens that can damage the DNA of cervical cells, making them more susceptible to HPV infection and increasing the risk of cervical cancer. Additionally, smoking has been linked to a decreased immune response, making it harder for the body to clear HPV infections.
Long-term Use of Oral Contraceptives
According to certain research, long-term use of oral contraceptives (birth control tablets) is associated with an elevated risk of cervical cancer. The risk appears to be higher among women who have taken oral contraceptives for a lengthy period of time, often more than five years. The specific mechanism underlying this link is unknown, although oral contraceptives are thought to cause hormonal changes that lead to the development of cervical cancer.
Multiparity (Multiple Pregnancies)
Women who have had several full-term pregnancies may be more likely to get cervical cancer. The specific causes for this link are unknown, although it is thought that hormonal and mechanical variables associated with many pregnancies may contribute to the development of cervical cancer.
Early Sexual Intercourse
Having your first sexual encounter at a young age is thought to increase your chances of developing cervical cancer. Early sexual activity raises the risk of HPV infection because the immune system may not be completely matured to battle the virus.
Lack of Regular Pap Smears
Regular screening with Pap smears (Pap tests) is critical for recognizing precancerous abnormalities in the cervix early. Failure to attend routine screenings might result in a missed opportunity to detect and treat abnormal cell changes before they proceed to cervical cancer.