Is cervical cancer hereditary?

Last Modified: December 8, 2002

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I have a question. My mother recently died from cervical cancer. I'm I at a higher risk of having cervical cancer because she had it? Can it be inherited? 

Answer

Stephen C. Rubin, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

There is no evidence that cervical cancer is inherited. It is generally accepted that most cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with the human papilloma virus, which is sexually transmitted. Regularly performed Pap smears are highly effective in detecting cervical cancer and its precursors. When detected early, these conditions are easily controlled.