What Causes Gynaecological cancers and who can get it?

Women of any age can be affected by Gynaecological malignancy; however, there are surely some factors which can make a lady all the more ‘high risk’ than another.

These factors include: increasing age, late child birth, no breast feeding, Family history of ovarian and/or breast cancer, exposure to hormones either naturally or with drugs,  persistent infection with HPV virus (on pap smear test), lifestyle habits like smoking, lack of physical exercise and obesity.

Obesity now parallels to tobacco chewing as the leading modifiable risk factor for endometrial (uterine) cancer. Nearly 50% cases of endometrial cancer are caused due to obesity. And the tragic part is majority of such women are still in their 30s, thus they end up losing their womb and ability to conceive further. It’s really SAD!!!

Another factor to consider especially for younger women is relationship between cervical cancer and HPV virus.

About 99.9% of cervical cancer are caused by various types of HPV virus, most common being HPV 16 and 18 types. Eight out of ten women are infected with HPV virus at some point of time in their life. But just presence of infection is not sufficient to cause cancer. It is persistent infection with HPV virus for years that causes pre-cancerous changes in cervix and ultimately leads to cervical cancer. This whole process takes about 10-15 years.

Thus, when a 45 year women presents with cervical cancer, her process for cancer had already been started years ago. That’s why, HPV vaccination for prevention of cervical cancer is recommended at an very early age of 9-14 years (that is before exposure to HPV virus).