Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women worldwide and causes more than 270,000 deaths annually, 85% of which occur in developing countries. In the United States, nearly 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and more than 4,000 women succumb to the disease annually.
Cervical cancer is highly preventable. As Cervical Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, the Foundation is highlighting key prevention tips to remember all year long to help reduce the number of women diagnosed with the disease.
Talk to your obstetrician/gynecologist or family physician about normal screening of your cervix through a pap test. Pre-cancerous changes can be detected and treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing. Screening protocols released by leading medical organizations have changed over the past several years, but early screening is important every three to five years. Beginning at age 21 until age 29, have a Pap test every three years. At age 30 until age 65, have a Pap test and an HPV test every five years.
Cervical cancer is almost always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Vaccines are available to protect against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer. Talk to your doctor about the recommended ages for adolescents (both male and female) and adult women. It is suggested that children be vaccinated from ages 9 to 11 for both boys and girls.
In an effort create awareness on the direct link of HPV and cervical cancer, the Foundation recently launched the Think About the Link® Campaign. The campaign is designed to raise awareness among health care providers and the general public of the link between certain viruses and cancer, including HPV and related forms of cancer. We aim to empower individuals to take action to significantly lower their chances of developing the disease through vaccination.
There are many things that occur in life that are beyond our control. Taking the steps to help prevent virally-induced cancers is not one of them.