Day 2 (two): Causes & Risk Factors of Cervical Cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes the majority of Cervical Cancer cases. HPV is a group of common viruses that may spread from person to person through sexual contact; including vaginal and oral sex. However, being affected with HPV does not mean you will develop Cervical Cancer.
Like other cancers, Cervical Cancer is caused by DNA mutations, i.e, gene defects that turn on oncogenes or turn off tumor suppressor genes. Human Papillomaviruses have two proteins known as E6 and E7 which turn on some tumor suppressor genes, such as p53 and Rb. The lack of inactivity of these genes allow the cells lining the cervix to grow too much and to develop changes, which sometimes lead to carcinoma. There are over 100 different strains of HPV but the strains linked to Cervical Cancer are HPV16 and HPV18.
However, there are other causes of Cervical Cancer aside the Human papillomaviruses, which are termed as “risk factors”.
Risk Factors Of Cervical Cancer include:
1. Immune System Deficiency: Reduces the body’s capacity to fight off early cancer due to a weakened immune system.
2. Women with Herpes: Women with Genital herpes have an increased risk of developing Cervical Cancer.
3. Smoking: Poses twice as much risk in women that smoke, compared to women that do not.
4. Age: The risk goes up between the late teens and mid 30s. People younger than 20 years old rarely develop Cervical Cancer.
5. Socioeconomic factors: This include populations with less access to diagnostic facilities for Cervical Cancer screening, especially Africans and women from low income households.
6. Oral contraceptives: Birth Control Pills may be linked with an increased risk of developing Cervical Cancer as well as higher-risk sexual behaviour, predisposing women to HPV infections.
7. Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES): Women whose mothers were given this drug during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage have an increased risk of developing Cervical Cancer.
From: NUNSA Standing Committee of Media, Information & Communication.
Comr. Khadija Motunrayo Musa
NUNSA National President.
Comr. Attahiru Adamu
Comr. Salako Omolabake