Cervical cancer prevention and early detection is an important part of our work here at PGOMG. You may not realize it, but every time you schedule an annual well woman exam, you are taking a significant step for your lifelong health.
How do I prevent cervical cancer?
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent cervical cancer is to schedule and attend a well woman exam. During a well woman exam at PGOMG, your provider will issue a Pap test, also called a Pap smear. This test screens for the presence of cervical cancer, pre-cancerous tissue and human papilloma virus (HPV). If pre-cancerous tissue is detected, it can be treated before cancer starts or spreads.
How is HPV connected to cervical cancer?
Exposure to HPV “is the main cause of cervical cancer and pre-cancer,” according to the American Cancer Society. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is passed through skin-to-skin contact during intercourse. A condom does not completely protect against HPV because the entire genital area is not fully covered and HPV can still be transmitted. If left untreated, cell changes in the HPV virus are linked to cervical cancer. Fortunately, PGOMG offers patients the Gardasil vaccine to immunize against HPV.
We’ve prepared several blog posts for patients (and parents!) on cervical cancer as well as the HPV vaccine Gardasil:
- Gardasil Myths & Facts Parents Need to Know
- January Is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
- So, Why Do I Need a Pap Test?
- In 2015, more than 12,900 new cases of invasive cervical cancer were diagnosed.
- Out of these new cases, more than 4,000 of these cases were fatal.
- Cervical pre-cancer is diagnosed more often than invasive cervical cancer due to annual screenings like a well woman exam.
- Risk factors for cervical cancer include HPV, tobacco use, immunosuppression (HIV), a chlamydia infection, obesity, and family history.