Preventing Cervical Cancer
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Jan 12, 2018
Cancer. There’s nothing pretty about the word or the life changes that come along with it. Although Cervical Cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer-related death for women in the United States, it has since drastically decreased due to more women taking preventative measures.1
Cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection is very common and often goes away on its own. Although most women with HPV don’t develop cervical cancer, in some cases, HPV may lead to cervical cancer.
In early stages of cervical cancer, most women will not show any symptoms. As the tumor grows or the cancer spreads, the most common symptoms are abnormal vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, and pain or bleeding, during or after sex. It is important to see your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms.
During Cervical Health Awareness and Cervical Cancer Screening Month, obstetrician and gynecologist, Benjamin Wood, DO shares four tips to maintaining good cervical health.
1. Get regular cervical cancer screenings. Screenings are performed to find and treat any precancerous cells in order to prevent cancer from developing. A screening can include either pap smears, HPV testing, or a combination of the two. Talk with a healthcare provider about when to have this screening. It is generally recommended women who are ages 21 and older have annual gynecologic exams. Ask questions about cervical cancer prevention during this exam, and your healthcare provider can let you know if you are due for screening.
2. Get vaccinated against high risk HPV. The vaccine should be given to patients younger than 26 years of age. Ideally, the vaccine is given before a person’s 15th birthday and prior to becoming sexually active. The vaccine is still effective if given after someone has already been sexually active. It is recommended that both females and males get vaccinated. Females can receive the vaccine after 9 years of age and males after 13 years of age.
3. Prevent pre-cancer cells by minimizing your risk of persistent human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. Do not smoke. This makes it more difficult for your body to clear the infection. Practice safe sex by using condoms, limiting your number of sexual partners, and not having sex at a young age. If you are younger than 26 years old, ask a healthcare provider about vaccination.
4. Be healthy. Eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
For more information about cervical cancer, click here.