Cervical Cancer Prevention Tips
- Never have sex: to avoid the virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer.
- If this is impractical, get the HPV vaccine: It prevents cancer.
- Limit lifetime number of sexual partners.
- Choose your sexual partners carefully.
- Do not smoke, quit now if you do.
- Get regular Pap smears, after 21.
Cervical cancer is the first cancer in women to be identified as being caused by a virus: HPV.
HPV is sexually transmitted, making cervical cancer essentially an STD.
Most (70%) of women and men will come into contact with it during their life.
Fortunately 80 to 90% of cases the virus will be naturally eliminated.
Fast Facts about HPV
- HPV can infect anyone who has ever had a sexual encounter, even without going “all the way.”
- HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact, not through an exchange of bodily fluid.
- In most cases, the virus is harmless and most people have no symptoms. The body clears most HPV infections naturally.
- HPV can be contracted from one partner, remain dormant, and then later be unknowingly transmitted to another sexual partner, spouse.
- Though usually harmless, some high-risk types cause cervical cell changes that, if not detected in time, can turn into cancer. The majority of women with an HPV infection will not develop cervical cancer, but regular Pap tests are important.
- Cervical cancer most commonly takes 10 years to 20 years or more to develop; women who are no longer sexually active should still have Pap tests until at least age 70, after that you and I will confer as to whether a Pap is still indicated.
- The best way to screen for cervical cancer is a Pap test, which may be done alone or, for women over age 30, combined with HPV test.
- HPV infections in women>30 are less likely to be cleared naturally, so an HPV test can be helpful in targeting women are at greatest risk.
- Regular Pap tests, supplemented by age-appropriate HPV testing, will detect virtually all pre-cancerous changes and cervical cancers.
- Genital warts, are caused by "low-risk" strains of HPV and are not associated with cervical cancer. Warts usually appear as a painless small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower.
HPV Vaccine News: Gardasil 9: Prevents 90% Cervical Cancer!
- The original HPV vaccine has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer by at least 70%, by protecting against high-risk strains 16/18 and warts-causing strains: 6/11.
- A new vaccine: Gardasil-9 was approved by FDA mid-December that The new vaccine, Gardasil 9, has the potential to prevent 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers.
- It shields against HPV types 16 and 18, plus the newly added types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, according to the FDA.
- Gardasil-9 will reduce cervical cancer by 90% - it is not yet available - but we are anticipating ordering this as of early February, 2015.
- In my office, we strongly encourage and administer "catch up" vaccination for all young woman under 26, and for women newly divorcing of any age with previous low risk for exposure. (The latter will usually have to pay for the vaccine, about $200/shot.)