Who is high risk for cervical cancer? What are age groups affected?

  Who is high risk for cervical cancer? What are age groups affected?

Women who have an STI in addition to HPV may have an increased chance at developing cervical cancer. A woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer may be increased if she has both HPV and chlamydia. 

The risk of developing cervical cancer can be impacted by a number of risk factors. Cervical cancer is uncommonly diagnosed in people who do not have any of these risk factors. Although having these risk factors can increase the likelihood of getting cervical cancer, many people who have these risks do not. Focusing on risk factors you can change or avoid (such as smoking or human papillomavirus infection) rather than those you cannot help when thinking about risk factors (such as age and family history). It is nevertheless crucial to be aware of risk factors that cannot be altered, as it is even more crucial for individuals who have them to undergo routine screening exams in order to detect cervical cancer early.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection

The human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the main cause of cervical cancer risk. There are around 150 viruses that make up the HPV group. Some of these result in papillomas, a form of development more popularly known as warts.

HPV cannot infect blood or internal organs like the heart or lungs. It can only infect skin surface cells and those lining the genital, anus, mouth and throat.

Skin-to-skin contact has the potential to transmit HPV from one person to another. Sexual activity, such as vaginal, anal, and even oral sex, is one method HPV spreads.

On other areas of the body, warts are brought on by other HPV types. Prevalent warts can develop on the hands and feet in some people, but warts on the lips or tongue are more common.

Warts on or around the genitals, as well as in the anal region, can be caused by specific HPV types. Because they are rarely connected to cancer, these HPV strains are referred to as low-risk varieties. Other HPV strains are known as high-risk strains because they have a substantial association with cancers such as cervix, vulva, and vaginal cancer in females.

Sexual history

The sexual history of a person may increase the risk of cervical cancer due to a number of variables. The likelihood of HPV exposure growing will most likely have an impact on the risk.

Having sexual activity while you are young (especially younger than 18 years old)

Having multiple sexual partners

Having a high-risk spouse as a partner (someone with HPV infection or who has many sexual partners)


Smokers and those around them are exposed to a variety of cancer-causing substances that harm organs besides the lungs when they smoke. These dangerous compounds enter the bloodstream through the lungs and travel throughout the body.

Cervical cancer is nearly two times more likely to affect women who smoke than non-smokers. Women who smoke have has tobacco byproducts discovered in their cervical mucus. These compounds may harm cervix cells’ DNA, which could lead to cervical cancer, according to researchers. Smoking also reduces the immune system’s capability to fight HPV infections.

Weakened immune system

The virus that causes AIDS, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), impairs the immune system and increases the likelihood of HPV infections. The immune system plays a crucial role in eradicating cancer cells and reducing their growth and spread. A cervical pre-cancer may progress more quickly than usual in women with HIV to an invasive malignancy.

Those taking medications to suppress their immune response, such as those receiving treatment for an autoimmune disease or those who have undergone organ transplants are another group of women at risk for cervical cancer.

Long-term use of oral contraceptives or birth control pills

There is evidence that long-term use of oral contraceptives (OCs) increases the risk of cervical cancer. According to research, the risk of cervical cancer increases the longer a woman uses OCs, but it decreases again once she stops using them and returns to normal a few years after use.

Having multiple full-term pregnancies

Cervical cancer risk is higher in women who have had three or more full-term pregnancies. This is believed to be caused by an elevated risk of HPV infection through sexual activity. Additionally, studies have suggested that hormonal changes during pregnancy may make women more vulnerable to HPV infection or the development of cancer. Another hypothesis is that immune systems of expectant women may be weakened, allowing for HPV infection and the development of cancer.

Young age at first full-term pregnancy

In comparison to women who waited until they were 25 or older to become pregnant, those who were younger than 20 when they had their first full-term pregnancy have a higher lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer.

Family history of cervical cancer

Some families may have a history of cervical cancer. The odds of getting cervical cancer are higher than they would be if no one in the family had the condition. Certain experts believe that a hereditary issue that makes some women less able to fight off HPV infection than other women may be the root cause of some uncommon cases of this familial tendency. Other times, it may be more probable for women in the same family as a patient who has already received a diagnosis to have one or more of the additional non-genetic risk factors.

What age groups are affected by cervical cancer?

The average age of diagnosis for cervical cancer is 50, with most cases occurring in women between the ages of 35 and 44. Rarely does it develop in women under the age of 20. Many older women are unaware that they continue to have a risk of developing cervical cancer as they age. Women over 65 make up more than 20% of incidences of cervical cancer. Women who have begin receiving cervical cancer screenings before the age of 65, however, seldom develop these cancers. 

Many medical professionals stop screenings for cervical cancer after age 65. In older women, without routine screening, cervical cancer may go undetected, increasing the likelihood of unfavourable outcomes. It is crucial to remember that there are other significant risk factors for cervical cancer besides age. At any age, having the HPV (human papillomavirus) might increase the risk of getting cervical cancer, as can other factors including being overweight, eating poorly, and using oral contraceptives frequently.


Age-specific incidence rates start to increase sharply around the ages of 15 to 19 and peak in the 30-34 age group. They then start to decline until the age of 50 to 54, fluctuating in the older age groups before starting to decline once more in the oldest age groups. From the time when standard screening begins at age 25, the incidence of cervical cancer rises quickly before declining. This reflects the detection of common cases during initial screening, the avoidance of a significant part of incident cases in the age group subject to continues screening, and the expected peak of HPV exposure in adolescence. When routine screening stops at age 64, incidence begins to climb once more; this may be a return to the rates anticipated for this age group without the preventive benefit of screening. The overall decline in incidence with age is due to older adults having lower HPV infection rates.





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