Considering the fact that cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the developed world, women would naturally like to know how do you get cervical cancer ? Statistics show that more than 12,000 women get diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the United States alone and about one fourth of that number die annually.
Understanding how do you get cervical cancer is important also because if women understand the mechanics of the disease they know the precautions to take to avoid it. It is also important to understand risk factors and causes of cervical cancer to understand how the cervical cancer vaccine works. We examine some cervical cancer FAQs.
How do you get cervical cancer?
Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is seen to be associated with a specific viral infection, that of HPV (the Human Papillomavirus infection).
The DNA of this virus is detected in almost all known cases of cervical cancer.
The HPV is known as the common cold of sexually transmitted diseases because of how common it is, and the virus is known to trigger certain changes in the cervical cells which can cause what is known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. This is a cervical abnormality that is potentially precancerous and which can lead to actual cervical cancer.
What are the risk factors of cervical cancer?
To understand how do you get cervical cancer, the risk factors have to be understood:
- Sexual behavior and history and unprotected sex is the biggest risk factor. The earlier a woman starts to be sexually active, and the more sexual partners she has, the higher is her risk of HPV infection and hence cervical cancer risk.
- Other infections such as HIV and Chlamydia also increase cervical cancer risk.
- The use of oral contraceptives may also contribute to the risk.
- Smoking is a known risk factor that contributes to the risk of contracting practically any cancer including cervical cancer.
- According to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) information about how do you get cervical cancer, stress and stress related disorders may be contributing factors.
- Diets low in fruit and vegetables could be another risk factor according to the ACS.
- Having many pregnancies is known to increase risk.
- Socioeconomic factors such as low income mean that women have less access to testing and other health care facilities, increasing risk.
- Family history of the disease is also a cervical cancer predictor.
- Not having regular pap smears is also risk factor in that it prevents timely detection.
How do you prevent cervical cancer?
As important and knowing how do you get cervical cancer is knowing how to prevent it. This is among the only cancers that can be prevented by using a cancer vaccine. Vaccines to prevent HPV infection such as Gardasil and Cervarix have been seen to be very effective in preventing specific strains of HPV infection and hence lowering overall cervical cancer risk. It is recommended that females be given the vaccine between ages 9 and 26. Condoms also offer protection against this cancer.