When it comes to cervical cancer, prevention is key.
Cervical cancer is a common type of cancer in women, but preventative measures such as annual pap tests make it easier to diagnose early. In honor of January, Cervical Health Awareness Month, here are five facts you should know.
- Cervical cancer typically develops slowly. The disease begins with dysplasia, a precancerous condition that involves abnormal cells on the cervix and is often caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), which is spread through sexual intercourse.
- A pap smear can detect dysplasia, which is a treatable condition. Routine pap smears and follow up in regard to abnormal pap results is a critical part of cervical cancer prevention. It's common to not have any symptoms of cervical cancer until the disease has spread or is in an advanced stage.
- There is an HPV vaccine for females between the ages of nine and 26. It's effective in protecting against certain types of HPV.
- Lifestyle choices can affect your risk for cervical cancer. Choosing not to smoke, using condoms and limiting your number of sexual partners will reduce your risk of developing the disease.
- Talking with your doctor about what screening routine, follow up and types of prevention are best for you is very important.
To learn more about cervical cancer prevention, talk with your doctor. Need some help finding one? Use our online Find a Physician service or call our Physician Referral line at 855-880-4625.