Act to Prevent Cervical Cancer

Act to prevent cervical cancer

Every year, about 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer. And it’s estimated that the disease claims approximately 4,000 lives annually.

Learning more about this deadly cancer can help you protect yourself.

Q: What causes cervical cancer?

A: HPV (human papillomavirus) causes nearly 100 percent of cervical cancer cases. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection.

Thankfully, only a few of the more than 200 kinds of HPV actually cause cancer. In most instances, the infections disappear on their own within two years. However, women with HPV infections that don’t go away face a high risk of developing cancer of the cervix.

Q: What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

A: Women with early cervical cancers and precancers usually don’t have symptoms. Once the cancer becomes invasive and grows into nearby tissue, women may experience abnormal vagina bleeding, unusual discharge from the vagina, and pain during sex.

Q: What can I do to prevent cervical cancer?

A: Take these steps to lower your risk of developing cervical cancer:

  • Get an HPV vaccine. All kids age 11 or 12 should get two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart. Those who start the vaccination series later—at ages 15 through 26—will need a third shot.
  • Receive cervical cancer screenings. Two options are available: a Pap test and an HPV test. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women ages 21 to 29 get a Pap test once every three years. Women ages 30 to 65 years can choose to have a Pap test every three years, an HPV test once every five years, or a Pap test and an HPV test once every five years. Talk with your health care provider about the schedule that is best for you.
  • Practice safe sex. Use condoms correctly every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Finding the Right OB-GYN
Pap tests and HPV tests can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic, but many women prefer to be screened by their OB-GYN. Click here to choose the provider you want to partner with.