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What is the Biggest Cause of Cervical Cancer?

“Long-lasting human papillomavirus (HPV) may lead to cervical cancer,” says Affinity Health.


Cervical cancer affects the cells of the cervix. The lower part of the uterus links to the vagina. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection. It contributes to most cervical cancer cases. Cancer of the cervix starts when healthy cells in the cervix undergo DNA alterations. The mutations cause the cells to grow out of control and increase without dying. The aberrant cells accumulate to form a bulk (tumour). Cancer cells can invade neighbouring tissues. They break off from a tumour to metastasise (spread) to other body parts.


“It is unclear what causes cervical cancer. But HPV is a factor,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“Often, when exposed to HPV, the immune system stops the virus from causing harm. But in a tiny number of individuals, the virus lives for years. It contributes to the transformation of some cervical cells into cancerous cells. It’s important to note that not all women infected with HPV get cervical cancer. That means that lifestyle factors may influence if you will get cervical cancer.”

What are the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

Often, early-stage cervical cancer generates no symptoms. Included among the signs and symptoms of advanced cervical cancer are:

  • Bleeding after sexual activity, between cycles, or after menopause.
  • Bloody, watery vaginal discharge that may be thick and odorous.
  • Pelvic pain or pain during sexual activity.


Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any concerns.

Variations of Cervical Cancer

The type of cervical cancer determines your prognosis and course of therapy. Principal kinds of cervical cancer include:


This cancer begins in the thin, flat cells that border the cervix. They can expand into the vagina. Most cervical malignancies are squamous cell carcinomas.


This cervical cancer develops in the glands lining the cervical canal.


Both types of cells are sometimes involved in cervical cancer. Rarely, cancer may occur in other cervix cells.

What Increases the Risk of Cervical Cancer?

Among the risk factors for cervical cancer are:

Many sexual partners:

The more sexual partners you have, the higher your likelihood of contracting HPV.

Early sexual activity:

Early sexual activity raises the chance of contracting HPV.

A compromised immune system:

If another condition impairs your immune system and you have HPV, your risk of developing cervical cancer may be increased.


Cigarette smoking is linked to squamous cell cervical cancer.

Other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs):

Other sexually transmitted infections increase the chances of HPV. These include:

How to Minimise your Cervical Cancer Risk

 Consult your physician about the HPV vaccine:

Vaccination against HPV infection may lessen the risk of cervical cancer and other malignancies. Ask your physician if an HPV vaccine is suitable for you.


Perform regular Pap testing:

Pap tests can reveal precancerous cervix disorders. That can be monitored or treated to prevent cervical cancer. Most medical organisations recommend initiating Pap tests at age 21, to be repeated every few years.


Learn More: 9 Essential Health Screenings for All Women


Practice safe sex:

Reduce your chance of developing cervical cancer by using a condom every time you engage in sexual activity. Also, limit the number of sexual partners you have.


Don’t smoke:

If you are a smoker, consult your physician about quitting methods.

How Does Early Detection of Cervical Cancer Increase the Chances of Successful Treatment?

Early detection is key to a positive outcome in cervical cancer cases.

Learn More: Why It Is Important to Detect Cervical Cancer Early?


Affinity Health members have access to:

  • 24/7 Telehealth Consultations with a Nurse, Doctor or Mental health Practitioner.
  • Qualified Primary Healthcare Professionals at the Medical Society Centres.
  • Preventative screening, lifestyle advice and more!


For more information, click here.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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