What causes cervical cancer?

Updated: Feb 12, 2019
  • Author: Cecelia H Boardman, MD; Chief Editor: Warner K Huh, MD  more...
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Answer

With rare exceptions, cervical cancer results from genital infection with HPV, which is a known human carcinogen. [33, 35, 36, 37, 38] Although HPV infections can be transmitted via nonsexual routes, the majority result from sexual contact. Consequently, major risk factors identified in epidemiologic studies are as follows:

  • Sex at a young age

  • Multiple sexual partners

  • Promiscuous male partners

  • History of sexually transmitted diseases

HIV infection is associated with a 5-fold increase in the risk of cervical cancer, presumably because of an impaired immune response to HPV infection. [34] Exposure to diethylstilbestrol in utero has been associated with an increased risk of CIN grade 2 or higher. [39]


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