Let’s Spread Cervical Health Awareness to Help Prevent Cervical Cancer
While Cervical Health Awareness Month is celebrated in January to raise awareness of the importance of screening for and preventing cervical cancer, at Women’s OBGYN Center we believe in prevention through education should be spread year-round.
We are happy to unite in the efforts to help spread cervical health awareness within our communities. If you find this article helpful, we encourage you to help us spread cervical health awareness by sharing this article.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cancer is an illness caused by cells that grow out of control in one part of the body and sometimes spread to other organs.
Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix. The cervix connects the vagina to the upper part of the uterus.
What Causes Cervical Cancer?
Almost all cases of cervical cancer result from long-lasting infection from the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, which at least half of sexually active people will have during their lifetimes, thankfully not all infections lead to cancer.
The Importance of Screenings
Any woman is at risk for cervical cancer. However, the disease is more common in women over 30.
Not so long ago, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer death for women. Today, thanks to screening and prevention, this type of cancer has decreased.
Still, the American Cancer Society estimates some 14,100 women will receive a cervical cancer diagnosis this year, and an estimated 4,280 women will die from this disease in 2022.
Cervical cancer screening is an essential part of women’s health care because the survival rate for cervical cancer when caught early is 92%. This means that getting regular screenings can save your life.
What is Cervical Cancer Screening?
Screenings are tests used to identify changes in the cervix cells that could lead to cancer. There are two types of tests:
- Cervical Cytology or Pap smear
- Testing for HPV
How Often Should I Get Screened?
It usually takes three to seven years for cervical cells with high-grade changes to become cancer, and getting regular screenings increases the chances of detecting these before they have a chance to become cancer.
Your first screening should be at age 21, regardless of whether you are sexually active or not. After this, the frequency of your screenings depends on your age, overall health, and level of risk.
Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap smear every three years. In addition, you can discuss the benefits of having an HPV test with your OB-GYN.
Women between the ages of 30 and 65 can choose between:
- A Pap smear and an HPV test every five years
- A Pap test alone every three years
- An HPV test alone every five years
Women over 65 can stop getting screened as long as they don’t have a history of abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer.
Additionally, screening is not necessary for this age group if:
- The last three Pap seams came back negative
- Their previous two HPV tests came back negative
- Their last two co-test results were negative
The most recent test should be within the past three to five years.
Preventing Cervical Cancer
The FDA has approved three vaccines to prevent infection with specific subtypes of HPV, including subtypes 16 and 18, which are two high-risk human papillomaviruses responsible for some 70% of cervical cancers.
Getting vaccinated is crucial to help protect yourself against HPV infections, but the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV known to cause cancer.
Therefore, even if you are vaccinated, you should continue to get regular screenings as recommended for your age group.
When was the last time you had a checkup at the Women’s OBGYN Center?