How You Can Prevent Cervical Cancer
Cervical Health Awareness Month takes place every January. Cervical health is just as important to keep healthy as any other part of your body. Here’s what you should know and how you can help prevent cervical cancer.
What Causes Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is almost always caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) — the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. This virus affects approximately 13 million Americans each year. This statistic includes teens and can be detected in 93% of all cervical cancers. Yet, the virus is not the only contributing factor to cervical cancer. Other contributing factors include:
- Poor nutrition
- A weakened immune system
Tip #1: Receive Routine Pap Tests
Pap tests enable doctors to detect changes on the cells of your cervix and can help make sure you take action before cervical cancer develops. You should have a pap test at least once every three years after you turn 21. After you turn 30, the frequency of getting pap smears can go down to every five years as long as your HPV tests come back normal. According to the American Cancer Society, between 60 and 80 percent of women in the U.S. with newly diagnosed invasive cervical cancer have not had a Pap test in the past five years. What’s even more alarming, many of these women have never had the exam. If you’re not sure where to get an exam, you can set up an appointment at a HealthTexas near you to get started today.
Tip #2: Follow up on Abnormal Pap Smears
If an abnormal test comes back, it could mean you have a simple infection that your doctor can help treat and test you one more time. If the Pap test suggests something other than an infection, your doctor will perform other tests to determine the problem. In some cases where women had prior abnormal Pap test results, doctors may also perform an HPV DNA test. This test can detect HPV on a woman’s cervix.
Tip #3: Practice Safe Sex
Studies show that women who have multiple sexual partners increase their risk of developing HPV and their risk of cervical cancer. While condoms help to lower the risk of developing HPV-related diseases, including cervical cancer, be aware that HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom. That is why it’s essential to receive the HPV vaccine in addition to using condoms.
We hope this article helps you understand how you can prevent cervical cancer. Please share with others in your community who are unaware of cervical health. If you have any questions, please feel free to book an appointment with a HealthTexas doctor today.