Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but what some may not know if that the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests). January marks Cervical Cancer Awareness month, a time to highlight issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease and the importance of early detection.
Regular check ups can help prevent cervical cancer from going unnoticed, including receiving the HPV vaccination to prevent infection from both high risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts. Although it may seem a disease predominantly found in women, the CDC recommends that all boys and girls get the HPV vaccine at the age of 11 or 12 as the vaccine produces a stronger immune response when taken during the preteen years.
A test strictly for women, a Pap test can discover cell changes to the cervix caused by HPV and is recommended for women over 30 along with the HPV vaccine. Each woman should ask her health care provider how often she should be screened and which tests are right for her.
For more information on cervical cancer, visit www.cancer.org.