What causes cervical cancer?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is found in about 99% of cervical cancers. There are over 100 different types of HPV, most of which are considered low-risk and do not cause cervical cancer. High-risk HPV types may cause cervical cell abnormalities or cancer.
Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.
The newest tool in the battle against cervical cancer is the HPV vaccine, approved by the FDA in 2006. This helps to prevent infection with certain strains of human papillomavirus associated with the development of cervical cancer, genital warts, and some less common cancers such as anal and penile cancers. The vaccine ideally should be given to girls and boys starting at age 11 or 12, before they become sexually active.
The Papanicolaou Smear (PAP TEST) was discovered in 1928 and it became acceptable medical practice in the 1940’s. Prior to the introduction of the Pap test, carcinoma of the cervix was a leading cause of cancer death in women.
Cervical cancer can easily be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up. The two screening tests that can be done to evaluate the cervix for changes are:
1) The Pap test evaluates the cervix for precancerous cell changes which have the potential to become cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
2) The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
For more information on cervical cancer screenings, go tohttp://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/screening.htm.
Getting regular Pap smears can help diagnose cervical cancer early. Talk to your provider today about how often you need one.
Cynthia Frane, MD Entira Family Clinics