It's no secret that HPV is a common virus. In fact, according to the CDC, it's so common that nearly every person will be exposed to it at some point in their life.
But what you might not know is that HPV has been linked to cervical cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system. That's why it's essential to know your status and get vaccinated if you're not already protected against HPV.
Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer yearly, but the disease is virtually always preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 90% of all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV.
HPV vaccines are safe and effective at preventing cervical cancer. HPV is a group of viruses that can be passed from one person to another during skin-to-skin contact. More than 40 types of HPV have been identified.
The HPV vaccine can help protect against several different HPV strains linked to cancers in men and women. It's been proven safe and effective for males and females aged 9 through 26.
Pap Smear Screening
Screening for cervical cancer includes HPV testing and Pap Smear Screening. Every woman should have regular Pap tests starting at age 21 or three years after becoming sexually active, even if she has had an HPV vaccine. If you are 30 or older and have been sexually active for 10 years or more, you should also get an HPV test every five years. If you are age 26 or younger, you should get an HPV test along with your first Pap test.
Despite the availability of an effective screening tool in the form of the Pap test, cervical cancer remains prevalent in parts of the world.
Cervical cancer screening aims to find areas of significant precancerous cells in the cervix (cervical dysplasia) and treat them before they become invasive cervical cancer. Early detection is key, and for a long time, Pap tests were the only tool available for cervical cancer screening.
Cervical cancer is a disease that affects thousands of women each year. With early detection and prevention, most women will live long and healthy lives.
If you have questions about cervical cancer or want more information about the vaccine, please contact our pharmacy for further information on taking charge of your health!