Cervical Health Awareness

Cervical cancer is highly preventable. It’s one of the few types of cancer that you can vaccinate against. Vaccinating against human papillomavirus (HPV), screening for HPV, and screening for pre-cancers greatly reduces the risk for cervical cancer.

Preventing HPV helps prevent cervical cancer

Human papillomavirus is transmitted during sex. According to the CDC, HPV is so common in the U.S. that nearly everyone who is sexually active – men and women – gets the virus at some point in their lives.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. Fortunately there is a vaccine that can help prevent HPV infections. This vaccine protects against cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. The CDC recommends HPV vaccine for boys and girls ages 11 to 12; the vaccine can also be given earlier or later. You can vaccinate against HPV between the ages of 9 and 26.

Finding HPV and pre-cancers is key in preventing cervical cancer. It’s also much easier to treat cancer when it’s detected in its early stages. Cervical cancer screening can help find cancers early and prevent cancer from occurring.

Cervical cancer is highly preventable. The CDC recommends HPV vaccine for boys and girls ages 11 to 12. Click To Tweet

Screening guidelines for cervical cancer

Screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer. The Pap test, also known as a Pap smear, screens for precancerous cells on the cervix. Left untreated, these pre-cancers can become cancer. There’s also a test that detects human papillomavirus.

Here’s what the American Cancer Society recommends:

  • Women between the ages of 21 and 29 have a Pap test every three years. They do not recommend the HPV test for women in this age group.
  • Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have both a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years. Just a Pap test every 3 years is an acceptable alternative for women in this group.
  • Women over 65, who do not have pre-cancers and who have had regular screening within the past 10 years – do not need to continue screening for cervical cancer.

You should follow these guidelines even if you’ve been vaccinated against HPV.

There are exceptions to these guidelines, however. Some women may need to screen for cervical cancer more often. Women who have had a total hysterectomy should stop screening. Your doctor will know how often you should have a Pap test or HPV test. Talk to your primary care physician or meet with the specialists at Renaissance Women’s Healthcare in Northwest Arkansas.