Although it hasnâ€™t always been discussed as widely as it is today, women are at risk of cervical cancer, in large part due to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV has many types of viruses, many of which can be transmitted sexually. The transmission can lead to genital warts or abnormal cell changes in the cervix. Since HPV is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer and precancers it is important for women to take precautions to avoid HPV infections. To help prevent the risk of cervical cancer, women should visit their healthcare provider or physician to schedule a pap smear and learn about the HPV vaccine.
A Pap smear is a procedure to test for cervical cancer or precancerous cells in the cervix, narrow end of the uterus at the top of the vagina. This test is designed to detect abnormalities that lead to cancer. An abnormal Pap smear is a often shows an irregular presence in the cervix or cervical area. It does not mean that the patient has cancer, it means that more in-depth tests may be required to test for infections and viruses.
There are multiple risks that stem from abnormal Pap smears if left untreated. Use the following as a guide to help prevent from cervical cancer.
Preventing Cervical Cancer
Many sexually active men and women may contract HPV at one point in their lives. The virus does not cause any symptoms and often the disease can be treated if detected early. Treating HPV is necessary to deter the risk of developing cervical cancer. There are ways to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Here are six things women can do to reduce the risk:
Get a Pap smear regularly
Follow up on abnormal Pap smears
Limit the number of sexual partners
Practice safe sex
Get the HPV vaccine
Pap smears are recommended for women once they reach the age of 20. From this age until 29 women should get a Pap test once every three years. From 30 to 65 years old, women with normal Pap tests can have Pap smears once every five years. Women who have had cancer or have a higher risk of cancer should talk with their doctor to decide which screening is suitable for them.
If a Pap smear is abnormal treatment may be administered or a repeat pap smear may be scheduled to confirm the results. Treatment is often initiated after further diagnostic tests are performed.
People do not call them cancer sticks for nothing, so quit smoking to avoid cancer development. Once the body is infected with HPV, smoking can double the risks of failing to fight the disease and speed up cancerous growth of precancerous cells.
Women who have multiple sexual partners throughout the course of a lifetime increase their risks of cervical cancer. Men who are infected with HPV show no signs of the disease, but women can develop genital warts.
Unprotected sex puts women at risk of HIV and other STDs which further increases the risk of cancer. Practicing safe sex can tremendously increase safety for both parties involved.
Women under the age of 27 may be eligible to receive the HPV vaccine. The vaccine prevents strains of HPV in women. Girls can receive the vaccine as early as nine years old. The vaccines will not protect against existing HPV strains, but if the vaccine is administered before a woman becomes sexually active they will successfully prevent strains.
According to the American Cancer Society, HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and precancerous cells. By avoiding contact or exposure to HPV you can help prevent against cervical cancer. The body can transmit the disease through sexual or non-sexual contact. HPV infections usually occur in women younger than 30. The virus usually spreads from male to female contact, but HPV can still be transmitted from woman-to-woman contact.
Schedule an Appointment
If you want to know how to prevent cervical cancer or are due for a Pap smear, visit Dr. Mervyn Samuel. He provides medical advice for women and is experienced in treating HPV. Discover how you can protect yourself from cervical cancer for a safer and healthier body.