The Cause of Cervical Cancer

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). There are more than 100 types of HPV and about 40 of these can infect the genital area of both men and women. Some of these genital HPVs can cause genital warts while others, the 15 high-risk HPV types, can cause the cells of the cervix to become abnormal and progress to cervical cancer over a period of 10 to 15 years.

Genital HPV is spread by sexual contact and it is easily passed from one person to another by any skin to skin genital contact, not just sexual intercourse. HPV is very common and most adults will have had a HPV infection at some time in their lives but HPV infections cause no obvious symptoms so most people will never know they had it.

There are no treatments for high-risk HPV but fortunately, most of these infections disappear on their own together with any abnormal cells they may have caused. Only the infections that do not disappear present a risk of cervical cancer developing.