Let’s take a moment to talk about cervical cancer and steps you can take to prevent it.
Cervical cancer is the third most common gynecological cancer in the U.S. The cervix is part of a woman’s uterus. It is located at the end of the vagina. Changes on the cervix can lead to cancer. When your doctor is able to identify these changes early, they can treat these areas before they turn into cancer. This screening is a simple pap test, and has led to a dramatic decrease in cervical cancer rate.
We also know that cervical cancer is associated with certain High Risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections through sexual contact. You can lower your risk of having cervical cancer by avoiding exposure to HPV, getting the HPV vaccines and getting screened regularly.
This month, be up-to-date on these three ways to protect you from cervical cancer:
Get vaccinated. HPV can be detected in 99.7% of the cervical cancer cases. Vaccines are now available to prevent the infection of some high risk strains of HPV. Learn more about HPV here.
Get screened. Women are recommended to get pap tests starting at age 21. How often you should have a Pap depends on your history, so make sure to talk to your doctor. We recommend that you see your gynecology care provider at least once a year for a check-up. If you have never gotten a Pap test before, you can learn more about it here.
Protect Yourself. The HPV infection is transmitted through sexual contact, so using a condom can help lower your chances of getting the infection. The only way to 100% protect yourself from HPV is to avoid sexual contact altogether.
Talk to your provider for more information on the pap test and HPV vaccines. The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center may be able to provide low-cost or free Pap tests for those who qualify. Call us at (212) 966-0228.
Written by Dr. Allan Ho, MD, MPH, FACOG.
Dr. Allan Ho is the Chief of Obstetrics/Gynecology at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from New York Medical College, and completed his residency training from Maimonides Medical Center. Dr. Ho is certified through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.