Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is now recognized as the main cause of cervical cancer. Epidemiological studies conducted over the past 30 years have consistently indicated that cervical cancer risk is strongly influenced by sexual activity, number of sexual partners, age at first sexual intercourse and sexual behaviour of the woman's male partners.
HPV (human papilloma virus) infections are the most common STDs (sexually transmitted disease) today. HPV infection is a transient or intermittent phenomenon. This range is greater than that for the association between smoking and lung cancer and is comparable to that of the association between chronic hepatitis B and liver cancer. HPV testing is in adjunct to Pap smear screening.
Cigarette smoking is a well-known risk factor for cancer. Cigarette smoking has a direct carcinogenic action on the cervix. Nicotine metabolites can be found in the cervical mucus of women who smoke.
There is an excess risk of cervical cancer associated with long-term use (12 years or more) of oral contraceptive use. The association is somewhat stronger for adenocarcinomas than for squamous cell carcinomas. Adenocarcinoma is a glandular tissue carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma is caused when the squamous cells morph in size, shape and quantity.
Women who use oral contraceptives undergo more frequent gynecological examinations. Additionally, are more likely to have disease detected earlier than those who do not use them. The accuracy of properly assessing the effect of oral contraceptive use stems from the fact this variable is highly associated with other risk factors, such as sexual activity and history of Pap smear screening.
Intake of foods high in beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin A may reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, yams etc. Although there are no routine screenings for HPV, you should visit your Gynecologist on a yearly basis for routine Pap Smears. There are preventative measures you can to ensure you are protected.
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN