January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Cervical Cancer was once the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Thanks to screening and prevention, however, its impact has significantly decreased. Still, about 13,000 new cases are detected and 4,000 women die each year in the US due to cervical cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to see cervical cancer eliminated completely, stating on their website that no woman should die from this disease.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer occurs when cancer cells develop in the cervix. In most instances, the cause of cervical cancer is due to HPV or the Human Papillomavirus. HPV is a common virus spread through sexual contact and typically disappears on its own. When it doesn’t go away on its own, overtime it can lead to warts or cancer.
Screening for Cervical Cancer
Pap smear exams are crucial in screening for cervical cancer. During a gynecological visit, a doctor collects and examines cells to detect any presence of cancer, as well as precancerous developments. Pap smears are typically recommended for women at the age of 21.
The HPV Vaccine
The HPV Vaccine provides protection over the most common types of HPV that lead to cervical cancer. Girls and boys can receive the HPV vaccine as early as age 9. Anyone through the age of 26 can be vaccinated as well. While the vaccine is not recommended for anyone over the age of 26, some adults may decide to become vaccinated after consulting their physician.
Were you aware of these facts about Cervical Cancer? Leave a comment.