Reduce the Risk of Cervical Cancer
Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer. There are three easy steps to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
- Get vaccinated against HPV: the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. It is recommended that the vaccine is given to preteens ages 11-12 years. Females ages 13-26 and males ages 13-21 should get the vaccine if they have not received it already. Males 13-26 may also be vaccinated. It’s important to know that vaccination at older ages is less effective in lowering cancer risk.
- Have routine Pap tests- Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix. Most medical organizations suggest women begin routine pap tests at the age of 21 and repeat them every few years. (Even if you have been vaccinated)
- Practice safe sex: Using a condom, having few sexual partners and delaying intercourse may reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
Some risk factors for cervical cancer can include:
- Many sexual partners
- Early sexual activity
- A weak immune system
- The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is the HPV infection
Both males and females can become infected with HPV, which makes it very easy to spread. Cervical cancer is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms, especially in earlier stages. Cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife and is most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44.