Cancer that forms in tissues of the cervix, NECK OF UTERUS (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina) it is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms, but can be found with regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope).
Most cases are found in women younger than 50. However, the risk of cervical cancer does not disappear all together with age. Almost 20% of women with cervical cancer are diagnosed when they are over 65.
For cervical cancer, the most important risk factor is infection with a virus known as HPV (human papilloma virus). Some types of HPV cause genital warts. Other types cause cancer of the cervix. The kinds that cause cancer are called “high-risk” HPVs. HPV is passed from one person to another by skin-to-skin contact such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex. In fact, doctors believe that a woman must be infected by HPV before she develops cervical cancer.
Long-term chlamydia infection can cause serious problems, too. A woman may not know that she is infected at all unless she is tested for chlamydia when she gets her pelvic exam. Some studies suggest that women who have a past or current infection are at greater risk for cancer of the cervix.
Cervical cancer may run in some families. If your mother or sister had cervical cancer, your chances of getting the disease are 2 to 3 times higher than if no one in the family had it. This could be because these women are less able to fight off HPV than other women.