Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer

A risk factor for a disease is anything that can increase the chances of that disease developing. Risk factors can include personal habits such as smoking, which is a well known risk factor for a number of cancers. Having a risk factor for a particular disease does not mean a person will get the disease; it simply means that the chances are higher, all other things being equal, than a person who does not have the same risk factor.

With regard to cervical cancer, the high-risk types of HPV are the main risk factors and cervical cancer will not develop in women who do not have one of these high-risk types. However, in women who do have HPV, several other factors can further increase the risk of cervical cancer developing. These include:

  • smoking
  • anything that weakens the immune system, such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection or chemotherapy