How to reduce the risk of cervical cancer

How to reduce the risk of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer can be sneaky because it often has no symptoms early in its development – sometimes until it has spread.

When this happens, you may notice:

  • Pelvic pain or bleeding from the vagina
  • An unusual vaginal discharge, which may include blood. This may happen between your periods or after menopause.
  • Pain during sex

Fortunately, with early detection through regular Pap tests, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers.

Reduce your risk

You can reduce your risk for cervical cancer by avoiding unprotected sex and getting the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination. This vaccine can also reduce your risk of vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers, as well as genital warts.

Reduce your family’s risk

You can speak with your health care provider about giving your child the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is most effective when given before a person is sexually active. Even though males can’t get cervical cancer, they can spread HPV, get anal cancer or genital warts.

Testing

Your health care provider can give you guidance about the testing that’s right for you.

The Pap test, or Pap smear, looks for a precancerous condition called dysplasia – a change in cells that precedes cancer. You should start getting Pap tests at age 21.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test looks for the virus that can cause cell changes. Starting at age 30, women should also have the HPV DNA test done with their pap smear.

If you’re one of the 32 women in America diagnosed with the disease on any given day, your health care professional can refer you to a gynecologic oncologist — a doctor trained to treat cervical cancer and other women’s reproductive system cancers.

Breast cancer is another cancer where preventable screenings can be lifesaving. Take a free online quiz to learn your risk.

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Comments

2 Comments

  1. Hi, you said “You can reduce your risk for cervical cancer by avoiding unprotected sex and getting the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination”. So, anyone older than 60 can do this vaccine? Please let me know.
    Thank you
    Maxine

  2. Pap smears used to be every year for women and now the Insurance Companies only want to pay for it every 5 years.
    Same with Colonoscopies, Insurance Companies only want to pay for it every 5 to 10 years. You might want to send this information to the insurance companies that are trying to endanger our lives.
    I heard Men and women can also can get throat cancer from HPV.

About the Author

Dr. Rachel Fournogerakis
Dr. Rachel Fournogerakis

Rachel Fournogerakis, DO, is an OB/GYN at Aurora Health Center in Summit, WI.