Protect Against Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is the second deadliest cancer among women worldwide - about 9,700 women in the U.S. are diagnosed every year. Most cervical cancers form in the cells lining the cervix and gradually develop precancerous changes that, if undetected, progress into cancer.
Cervical cancer often goes unnoticed due to minimal symptoms. Though a highly preventable and treatable disease, the lack of detection causes an unsettling number of women — almost 3,700 — to lose their battle to cervical cancer each year.
The early detection of cervical cancer, as with all types of cancer, increases the chances of successful treatment. Protect yourself against cervical cancer with these recommended prevention and screening practices:
- HPV vaccine. About 70 percent of cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. Vaccination is available to protect against the two types of HPV responsible for the majority of cervical cancer cases. The vaccine is administered as three injections over a six-month period to girls and young women ages 9 to 26.
- Regular Pap tests. This potentially lifesaving screening detects abnormal cell changes in the cervix that can lead to cancer. Pap tests can detect many cell changes in the cervix before they become cancer. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every other year. Women ages 30 and older who have had three consecutive negative Pap tests can reduce screening to every three years. Those at increased risk should talk with their physician about when to start and how often to have screenings.