January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month
Are you aware that Cervical Cancer is preventable?
Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women worldwide. This year, an estimated 13,170 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. Cervical cancer develops quite slowly and begins with a precancerous condition known as dysplasia, (abnormal cellular changes) is easily detected in a routine pap smear.
Because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. Incidence rates for the disease dropped by more than 50% between 1975 and 2015 due in part to an increase in screening, which can find cervical changes before they turn cancerous.
Screening is done by a Pap test, also known as pap smear. This test involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix and looks for abnormalities under a microscope. An additional test which looks for HPV DNA, is like the pap test, involving collecting cells from the cervix for lab testing.
HPV stands for Human papillomavirus and is the cause of approximately 90% of all cervical cancers. HPV vaccines can help prevent infection from both high risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts. The CDC recommends all boys and girls get HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12.
Cervical Cancer Screening guidelines are updated regularly, and the latest guidelines recommend women have pap smears starting at age 21, and co testing for HPV at age 30. If normal, a pap smear may not be needed for 3 – 5 years.
Keep yourself healthy. If you have not had the recommended screenings, call your provider today!