Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Early detection makes the difference! Annually, about 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. This number doesn’t need to be so high. Two things you can do to protect yourself are:
Cervical cancer is linked to HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause about 90 percent of cervical cancers. The earlier you get vaccinated, the better! Preferably, get vaccinated before you become sexually active. The CDC recommends the pre-teen years, around ages 11-14, for both girls and boys. It can still be useful for adults to get vaccinated. It is recommended up to age 45.
You should get tested for cervical cancer regularly, even if you received the HPV vaccine. There are two types of tests you may receive at your gynecology exam: a pap test and an HPV test.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause cell changes on the cervix.
The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
Speak with your doctor about which test you need at this time.
Sources: The CDC and NCCC
Watch Jasmine’s Story: Preventing Cervical Cancer