Cervical Health Awareness Month
Information on cervical health and Human papillomavirus the media sends out is not always accurate. Therefore, take this opportunity to read the facts in this article or discuss them with a healthcare provider at your next office visit.
HPV otherwise known as the Human Papillomavirus is a very common virus and nearly all sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Nearly one in four is currently infected with HPV in the United States and not even know it because individuals with HPV may never develop symptoms or health problems. Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away on its own within two years but sometimes it may not go away and cause changes in the cells eventually leading to cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer, throat cancer, and genital warts in both men and women.
There are more than 40 types of HPV types which can be easily spread. Types 16 and 18 cause the majority of invasive cervical cancers, whereas HPV type 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts. HPV is transmitted from person to person during skin to skin contact, vaginal baby delivery, and most often during sexual activity (vaginal, anal, oral sex and foreplay).
Cancer often takes years or decades (10-15years) to develop after a person gets infected with HPV or for abnormal cells to turn into cancer. But cervical cancer is the most preventable female cancer with regular screening tests available (Pap test and HPV DNA test) and early treatment. Because cervical cancer or other cancers caused by HPV might not always have signs or symptoms it’s important for women to get regular screenings for cervical cancer. It’s better to catch it early. Also, with available HPV vaccines which protect individuals from HPV infection, not getting the HPV vaccine leaves one vulnerable to potential cancer caused by HPV.
The take away message is to protect yourself from Human Papillomavirus and cervical cancer with regular screening tests (called pap smears), HPV vaccines that prevent HPV and regular medical follow up care. Every woman should get a well woman exam once a year. So, please take the opportunity and call the office to schedule yours today.