Cervical Cancer and Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Strong evidence shows that the main cause of cervical cancer, and changes in the cervix that lead to cancer, is infection with a high-risk form of human papillomavirus (HPV).
- There are more than 100 types of HPV but only a small number are high-risk cancer causing.
- HPV can pass between two people, mostly through sexual contact. You can have HPV infection without knowing it because there are usually no symptoms.
- HPV infection is common among both women and men; at least 50% of sexually active women will be infected with one or more types at some point in their life.
- HPV infection status can change in a fairly short period of time.
- Most HPV infections can correct themselves in healthy individuals (either enter a latent phase or be suppressed by the immune system).
- Infections that don’t go away and are left untreated may lead to precancerous changes in the cervix or cervical cancer.
Sexual behaviour is the key determinant of HPV infection among both women and men. Chances of infection are increased by:
- number of sexual partners throughout your lifetime;
- early age at first sexual intercourse; and
- having had at least one sexual partner who was an HPV carrier.
Source: Cancer Care Ontario
For more information, please contact a member of Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s Communicable Disease Team.
Simcoe Office: 519.426.6170 / 905.318.6623
Caledonia Office: 905.318.5367