Several risk factors can increase your chance of developing cervical cancer. People without any of these risk factors rarely develop cervical cancer. Although these risk factors can increase the odds of developing cervical cancer, many with these risks do not develop this disease.
What are the risks?
Infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer. HPV is very common and usually clears up by itself. However, if the infection doesn’t go away and becomes chronic. A chronic infection, especially when caused by certain high-risk HPV types, can eventually cause cancer such as cervical cancer.
The American Cancer Society also cites sexual history, smoking, a weakened immune system, multiple pregnancies, a diet low in fruits and vegetables and more can also raise the risk of cervical cancer.
Can cervical cancer be prevented?
The two most important things you can do to prevent cervical cancer are to get the HPV vaccine if you are eligible, and to be screened regularly.
Screening is having tests to find conditions that may lead to cancers and can find pre-cancers before they can turn into invasive cancer. The Pap test (or Pap smear) and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test are specific tests used during screening for cervical cancer. These tests are done the same way. A health professional uses a special tool to gently scrape or brush the cervix to remove cells for testing. If a pre-cancer is found it can be treated, hopefully keeping it from turning into cancer.
When to see a doctor
Contact your doctor if you are experiencing increased vaginal discharge and irregular bleeding as these could be signs of cervical cancer.
To speak with a UCR Health physician, please visit http://www.ucrhealth.org/womens-health-lp/ or give us a call at 1-844-827-8000.
About UCR Health
UCR Health is comprised of a team of physicians, specialists, and healthcare professionals dedicated to improving people’s health. With five medical offices located throughout the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley, UCR Health is growing to meet the healthcare needs of the region, bringing innovative, culturally sensitive medical care to the community. Established alongside the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, UCR Health’s patient-centered primary care and specialty services deliver university-based healthcare excellence and innovation to all communities.