June 20, 2019

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

December 2018

Cervical ribbon

Did you know… more than 12,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 4,000 will die from it each year? And nearly all (99%) of the cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)?

 

More about HPV:

HPV is spread through sexual contact and can cause genital warts or even develop into cervical cancer.  Although HPV is a very common virus and often goes away on its own, the majority of cervical cancer cases can be attributed to two types of the virus:  HPV-16 and HPV-18.  These are often referred to as high-risk types of HPV.  The HPV vaccine helps to prevent the most common forms of HPV and is most effective when given to boys and girls before they have become sexually active.  The CDC recommends administering the HPV vaccine to both boys and girls beginning at age 11 when immune response is higher. 

Detection:

It is recommended that females get regular pap tests – this test should be done every three years from ages 21 to 64.  A pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix and can detect changes in your cervical cells that suggest cancer may develop in the future.  At age 30, women should also test for HPV in addition to pap testing.  Cervical cancer is a slow growing cancer so early detection is key to halting its development. 

Protection:

  • Get the HPV vaccine (males ages 11 – 21 and females ages 11 – 26)
  • Get regular pap tests (females beginning at 21 years of age every three years; at age 30, women may get paps every five years when HPV testing is also completed)
  • Don’t smoke – women who smoke double their risk of cervical cancer
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid having multiple sex partners or sex at an early age
  • Women taking oral birth control pills are at higher risk for cervical cancer – and women who have taken them for five years or more double their risk
  • Use condoms during intercourse to reduce spreading HPV to your partner

References:

https://www.nfcr.org

https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/understanding-cervical-cancer-prevention

http://www.nccc-online.org/hpvcervical-cancer/cervical-health-awareness-month/ - education materials, sex health podcasts, and additional resources for professionals, including continuing education credits