Reducing Your Risk of Cervical Cancer

Some steps to reduce the risk of cervical cancer are:


An HPV vaccine is available. It can prevent infection by some (but not all) human papillomavirus (HPV) types. This includes some types that cause cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers.

The vaccine is advised for girls between 11 to 12 years old. The vaccine works best if given before the first sexual contact. It can be given to women through age 26.

Manage Abnormal Cervical Cells

Abnormal cervical cells may appear years before cervical cancer. Regular Pap tests can help to detect them.

Early detection offers the best chance for a cure.

Practice Safe Sex

HPV is passed through sexual contact. It is the main risk for cervical cancer. Women can reduce their risk of HPV and cervical cancer by:

  • Not having sex
  • Limiting sexual activity to 1 faithful partner
  • Using latex condoms (HPV can still affect areas not covered by the condom)
  • Having regular checkups for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Seeking prompt treatment for any symptoms of an STI

Quit Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of getting cervical cancer. The sooner smoking is stopped, the sooner the body can start to heal.

Eat a Healthful Diet

Eating a balanced diet helps reduce the risk of cervical and other cancers. This includes eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.



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Committee on Practice Bulletins—Gynecology. Practice Bulletin No. 168: cervical cancer screening and prevention. Obstet Gynecol. 2016;128(4):e111-e130. Reaffirmed 2017.
HPV and cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2021.
HPV (human papillomavirus) VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2021.
Human papillomavirus vaccine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2021.
Hu Z, Ma D. The precision prevention and therapy of HPV-related cervical cancer: new concepts and clinical implications. Cancer Med. 2018 Oct;7(10):5217-5236.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 10/8/2021

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