January is Cervical Health Awareness Month! Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. Quillen ETSU Physicians would like to take this opportunity to share information about how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer.
Did you know there is actually a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer?
About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.
The good news?
Women should start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
During the past several decades, screening – testing for cancer before symptoms develop – has reduced deaths from cervical cancer, as doctors have been able to find cancer early and treat it, or prevent it from developing.
The most common form of cervical cancer starts with pre-cancerous changes. These pre-cancers can be found and treated before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Pre-cancers often have no symptoms, but their cells can be detected through regular screening.
There are 2 types of tests used for cervical cancer screening. The routine Pap test and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which finds HPV infections that can lead to cell changes and cancer.
HPV infections are very common. Most HPV infections are cleared by the body without causing problems, but some infections do not clear and can lead to cell changes that might cause cancer.
Parents should make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.
Thanks to the health care reform law, you and your family members may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.
Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy.
Call our offices at 439-7272 or visit your physician to schedule your regular check up or HPV vaccine today.