January is Cervical Health Month
What is Cervical Cancer?
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates in 2018 that about 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and about 4,170 women will die from cervical cancer affecting women ages 20 to 50 years of age. Cervical cancer involves cancer of the lower part of a woman’s uterus to her vagina. The cervix is the opening or “mouth” of the uterus (place where fetus grows during pregnancy). Cervical cancer is caused by a sexually transmitted infection, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The HPV virus can cause other cancers in women and men that include: vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, anal cancer, rectal cancer, and throat cancer.
Prevention of Cervical Cancer
–Practicing safe sex, however condoms cannot prevent all HPV infections. The virus can be transmitted from skin-to-skin.
- The Pap smear is a diagnostic test performed by the health care provider that collects cells from the surface of the cervix which are sent to a lab, examined under a microscope for evidence of precancerous or cancerous changes. ACS recommends the Pap smear for screening every 3 years for women ages 21 to 29 years and reports that since its use the mortality rate of cervical cancer has declined by 50 percent within the last 40 years. In addition, ACS emphasizes routine Pap smears as being important for early detection and treatment, thereby improving outcomes.
- The HPV vaccine can be administered by your health care provider to prevent the most common cancer-causing strains of HPV. The vaccine is most effective before a person becomes sexually active. Both males and females can be vaccinated and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended 3 doses of HPV vaccine for teens and young adults between the ages of 15 through 26 years, and for immunocompromised persons. The recommended 3-dose schedule is 0, 1–2 and 6 months.
For more information, please visit the Health and Wellness, 4th floor, Main Building.