Actively reducing your risk for cervical cancer could save your life.
Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is held each January to educate people about this disease. Cervical cancer is not widely discussed the way some other cancers are yet 12,000 women are diagnosed each year. The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer characterized by abnormal cell changes. While many women will encounter HPV in their lives, the majority of cases do not result in cervical cancer. However, you can drastically reduce your risk by avoiding HPV. Reducing risk factors along with regular screening could save you or someone you love from the devastating effects of cervical cancer.
- Not getting the HPV vaccine
- Early or many sexual encounters
- Over age 25
- Pregnancy before age 20
- Low economic status and poor health care
- Weak immune system
- Exposure to DES (diethylstilbestrol) used by your mother during pregnancy
Reduce your risk
- Don’t smoke; quit now
- Get the HPV vaccine if you qualify
- Limit your number of sexual partners
- Use protection during all sexual encounters
- Get a regular pap test
- Treat any infection right away
You can protect yourself from cervical cancer with healthy living, regular testing, and the HPV vaccine. A yearly pap test is recommended for women under 30. Women over 30 should add the HPV test to their yearly pap test to ensure any problems are found right away. The HPV vaccine is currently available to women under age 26.
Regional Medical Center has more information about cervical cancer in our online health library. If you have any further questions about how to reduce your risk of cancer or if you would like a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5119.