YES! CERVICAL CANCER IS A NOW A THING : HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Cervical cancer begins when healthy cells on the surface of the cervix change or get infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor. All women are at risk for cervical cancer, and it occurs most often in women over age 30.
HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer because there are specific HPV types that cause changes on a woman’s cervix that can lead to cervical cancer over time, while other types can cause genital or skin warts.
The virus is so common that most people get it at some point in their lives. It usually causes no symptoms so you can not tell that you have it. For most women, HPV will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer.
YOUR RISK OF AN HPV INFECTION LEADING TO CERVICAL CANCER INCREASES IF;
- You have a condition or use drugs that reduce or impair your immunity
- You have a history of prolonged use of hormone-based contraceptives
- You have multiple sexual partners
- You started having sex early
- You smoke cigarettes
SO HOW DO YOU PREVENT IT?
Vaccination against HPV and regular screening exercises can help prevent cervical cancer. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.
The Vaccine protects against the variants of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
- HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens aged 11 to 12 years but can be given starting at age 9.
- HPV vaccine also is recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if they are not vaccinated already.
- It is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. However, some adults aged 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit, as more people have already been exposed to HPV.
The HPV vaccine is also approved for boys and men from 9 to 26 years old. As with girls, it’s usually routinely between 11 and 12 years, although it can be given as early as 9 years. The theory is that vaccinating boys limits the spread of HPV, which could protect girls from cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine for boys may also decrease the risk of other cancers that could result from HPV, such as those of the penis and back of the throat, as well as genital warts.
HPV vaccination prevents new HPV infections but does not treat existing infections or diseases. This is why the HPV vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV.
There are 2 screening tests that can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early;
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The HPV test looks for the Human Papillomavirus that can cause these cell changes.
As a modern-day woman, you need to take charge of your life and there is no better way to start than taking charge of your health. You should get screened for cervical cancer regularly, even if you received an HPV vaccine.
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