Cervical cancer is not in and of itself a sexually transmitted disease. But it is the consequence of damage from a sexually-transmitted virus. Over 99 percent of all cervical cancers are the consequence of damage by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US, affecting literally millions of women each year with new cases. But only a small subgroup of these women goes on to get cancer. The reason some women get cervical cancers and many don't, even though they share the commonality of being infected by HPV, is related to multiple issues.
Those patients who develop cervical cancer often:
- Have had more sexual partners and thus have contracted more strains of the virus. About 30-40 different varieties of this virus exist in the human genital tract.
- Do not regularly get screening with pap smears. Yes, that still happens!
- Have stronger strains of virus (HPV 16 and 18 are the “the bad actors").
- Are immunosuppressed from smoking, HIV (AIDS virus), and/or steroids.
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