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What causes gynecologic cancers?

Dr. Mary Chappell, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

The only cancer we really know "what causes it" is cervical cancer. The Human Papilloma Virus, especially types 16 and 18, cause most cervical cancers. Smoking increases a patient’s risk. So do immunocompromised states. There is now a vaccine for HPV strains 6, 11, 16 and 18.

Gynecologic cancers are typically caused by a genetic mutation at the cellular level in a woman's reproductive organs. Cells can begin to grow abnormally fast and form a tumor. These cells can then metastasize and infect other organs and body systems. The cause of such cancers is often not clear; risk factors can include an unhealthy diet and lifestyle (smoking, lack of exercise, etc.) and a family history of disease. Other risk factors may be specific to the type of gynecologic cancer. For example, infection with the human papilloma virus raises the risk for cervical cancer, and diabetes or high blood pressure make uterine and endometrial cancers more likely.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.