Every year, more than 600,000 women worldwide — including more than 14,000 in the United States — are diagnosed with cancer of the cervix, which is the opening to the uterus.
As dire as that sounds, this number is 50% lower than in the mid-1970s, thanks to the American Medical Association recommending routine Pap tests for women. Since then, screening has helped doctors detect cervical changes before they become cancerous.
Undetected and untreated cervical cancer is deadly. More than 4,000 women in the US die from this preventable disease each year.
Although it’s rare for women in their 20s or 30s to develop cervical cancer (the average age of diagnosis is 50), preventing this slow-growing disease now protects your health and life in the future.
Board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Diana Heard and Nicola Maurer, NP of Glendale Obstetrics and Gynecology, PC, in Glendale, Arizona, encourage you to take control of your reproductive and overall health by preventing cervical cancer. Here’s how.
Pap smears and HPV tests are part of your well-woman exam. While your well-woman visit, which also includes a pelvic exam, should be annual, how often you should have cervical cancer screening depends on your age and health history. General guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are:
In more than 95% of cases, cervical cancer is the result of a sexually transmitted virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). Another risk factor for developing cervical cancer is infection with the sexually transmitted genital herpes virus (HSV2).
Unfortunately, both HPV and HSV2 can be transmitted through intimate touch alone, even if you never have intercourse. Nevertheless, practicing safe sex may lower your risk of contracting HPV or HSV2 and developing cervical cancer. Here’s how:
Safeguarding your health and boosting your immune system also reduces your risk. Quit smoking. Take extra precautions if you have an autoimmune disease or other condition that makes you susceptible to infections.
A single dose of the HPV vaccine offers effective protection for those who would benefit from it. Formerly, 2-3 doses were necessary.
The HPV vaccine prevents infection with HPV serotypes 16 and 18. These types of HPV are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases. The dosing schedule is based on age. Although the primary target for HPV vaccines is young girls so they can build immunity, adults benefit too:
Preventing cervical cancer is a lot safer, more effective, and easier than trying to treat it.
Schedule your Pap test, HPV test, or HPV vaccine today. Call 602-298-8977 or book an appointment online with Glendale Obstetrics and Gynecology, PC, today.