Causes and risk factors
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) and sex
CIN is usually caused by HPV infection. HPV is very widespread virus than can affect the cells of the cervix. It is usually transmitted during sexual intercourse.
Having sex at an early age and having multiple partners can increase the risk of contracting HPV and may facilitate the development of cervical cancer. However, many women who have just one sexual partner can have HPV at some point in their life and develop CIN or cervical cancer.
Women who smoke are more likely to develop CIN and squamous cell cervical cancer, the most common type of cervical cancer.
- Weakened immune system
Having a weak immune system may aid in the process of CIN leading to cancer. The immune system may be weakened by smoking, poor diet, and infections such as HIV/AIDS.
- Contraceptive pill
Prolonged use of the contraceptive pill (over 10 years) may cause a slight increase in the risk of developing cervical cancer.
Preventing cervical cancer
There are two vaccines available to prevent HPV infection. There are more than 100 types of HPV, and each is identified using a number. Both vaccines haven been shown to protect against HPV 16 and 18, which are high-risk types. Vaccines are expected to prevent at least 7 of every 10 cases (70%) of the most common type of uterine cancer (squamous-cell cervical cancer).
These vaccines work better if they are given before puberty and before a woman becomes sexually active.
- Cervical screening
This is an important method of detecting early changes in the cells of the cervix, creating the opportunity to administer treatment before the cancer develops. Screening involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix through a test known as cytology. If abnormal cells are found during your screening text, you will be referred for a colposcopy or a biopsy.