You Can Help Prevent Cervical Cancer

Saturday, January 8, 2022 – The American Cancer Society said cervical cancer is the only preventable female cancer, yet there were more than 4,000 deaths in the United States in 2021 and nearly 14,500 new cases.

Experts note that the best way to prevent this is to make sure you and your children get the HPV vaccines.

Almost all cervical cancer stems from the human papillomavirus, which will first cause pre-cancerous cells to develop, said Dr. James Aikins Jr., chief of gynecological oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute New Jersey in New Brunswick.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12. It can start as early as age 9.

The vaccine is also approved for adults who haven’t had it until age 45, but it works best when given at a young age.

To protect yourself, get regular Pap tests and HPV tests, which can detect precancerous changes in cells that can eventually turn into cervical cancer. Screening is usually done for women between the ages of 21 and 65 but can vary, Aikins said in a Rutgers press release.

He said other lifestyle choices can help prevent cervical cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, eat a healthy diet, and avoid or quit smoking. Also, use condoms with any sexual partners.

It’s impossible to know if a partner has HPV, and the Cancer Society says condom use can reduce the rate of HPV infection by about 70%.

Aikins said all women should have a routine check-up schedule with their doctor.

Resources

  • Rutgers Cancer Institute, New Jersey, press release, January 1, 2022

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