Are you getting screened for cervical cancer? January is Cervical Health Awareness Month – a good time to remind women to talk with their physician about risk factors. WVU Medicine obstetrician and gynecologist Ossama Elsaccar, MD, provides facts about the disease and tips to protect your health.
Cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus.
The growth of abnormal cells in the cervix, located in the female reproductive system, is almost always caused by the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV), which affects one in four people and is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Use condoms and limit your number of sexual partners to reduce possible exposure to HPV infection.
With regular screening and vaccination, it’s highly preventable.
A Pap test and an HPV test will find any pre-cancerous cells, which can be treated to stop cervical cancer before it begins. Another way to help prevent cervical cancer is by getting the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for females ages 9-26 and protects against nine types of cervical cancer-causing HPV.
Get a Pap test at least every three years.
Starting at age 21 up until age 65, women should receive a Pap test. This can be combined with an HPV test. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may recommend that you wait three years until your next Pap test since your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is low.
Are you due for a Pap test or HPV vaccine? Make an appointment: 855-WVU-CARE