Cervical Cancer

Risk Factors

  • Human Papilloma Virus Infection – The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
  • Smoking – Women who smoke aare about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer.
  • Immunosuppression – Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, damages the body’s immune system & places women at higher risk for HPV infections.
  • Chlamydia – Chlamydia is a relatively common type of bacteria that can infect the reproductive system.
  • Diet – Diets low in fruits & vegetables.
  • Oral Contraception (birth control pills) – There’s evidence that taking (OCs) for a long time increases the risk of cancer of the cervix.
  • Young Age First Full-Term Pregnancy – Women younger 17 years when they first had first full-term pergnancy are almost 2 times more likely to get cervical cancer later in life than women who waited until they were 25 years or older.
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) – DES is a hormonal drug that was given to some women to prevent miscarriage between 1940 & 1971. Women whose mothers took DES (when pregnant with them) develop clear-cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina or cervix more often than would normally be expected.
  • Family History – If your mother or sister had cervical cancer, your chances of developing the disease are 2 to 3 times higher.

Warning Signs & Symptoms

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Bleeding after sex (vaginal intercourse)
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding & spotting between periods
  • Having longer or heavier (menstrual) periods than usual.
  • Bleeding after douching, or after a pelvic exam is a common symptom of cervical cancer but not pre-cancer.
  • An unusual discharge from the vagina ~ the discharge may contain some blood and may occur between your periods or after menopause.
  • Pain during sex (vaginal intercourse).


These signs and symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than cervical cancer. For exmaple, an infection can cause pain or bleeding. Still, if you have any of these problems, you should see your health care professional right away ~ even if you have been getting regular Pap tests. If it is an infection, it will need to be treated. If it is cancer, ignoring symptoms may allow it to progress to a more advanced stage and lower your chance for effective treatment.

Early Detection Saves Lives!

This information was provided by the American Cancer Society. © 2013 American Cancer Society, Inc. All rights reserved. The American Cancer Society is a qualified 501[c][3] tax-exempt organization.