Multiple sexual partners as a risk factor for cervical cancer

Christina S. Chu, MD
Last Modified: April 21, 2002


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I've read that "many different partners" may be a contributing factor of cervical cancer. Why this is so?  


Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

In the past, having many different sexual partners was identified as a risk factor for developing cervical cancer, along with having a history of multiple sexually transmitted diseases, and early age at first sexual intercourse. While no one can say for certain what the link is between sexual activity and cervical cancer, one can assume that sexual activity may increase the chance of transmission of the human papilloma virus (HPV). Certain strains of the HPV virus have been implicated in the development of cervical cancer.