Cervical cancer affects more than 14,000 U.S. women a year and is responsible for more than 4,000 deaths. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer and is also the culprit behind five other cancers.
The good news? There is a safe and effective HPV vaccine, and a large study of vaccinated women showed a 90% reduction in cervical cancer!
“Curing cancer sounds like an unachievable dream, but we can actually do better than cure cancer. For six forms of cancer, we have the potential to prevent them,” said Lisa Abaid, M.D., gynecologic oncologist at Hoag. “Since the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, the number of HPV-related cancer cases in women and men have gone down dramatically.”
To schedule your vaccine or to learn more about your risk for HPV-related cancers, visit www.hoag.org.
What do you need to know about cervical cancer and HPV prevention? Dr. Abaid offers these three tips.
Parents Can Make a Difference. “Two doses of HPV vaccine at ages 11 and 12 provide effective and lasting protection from six types of cancer,” Dr. Abaid said. “Parents have the power to protect their kids against growing up to develop cancers of the cervix, vagina and vulva in women and penis in men, as well as of the anus and throat in men and women.”
The Time Is Now. “One reason I hear from parents about why they don’t want to vaccinate their children against HPV is that it feels too early to think about sexually transmitted diseases,” Dr. Abaid said. “It is important to remember that a vaccination is not a permission slip to become sexually active. In order for the vaccine to be most effective, it is important to get vaccinated well before a person becomes sexually active. More than a decade of data backs up the tween years as the right time.”
There Is An HPV Test. Because many of the estimated 79 million Americans who have HPV do not develop symptoms, women over the age of 30 may want to consider getting an HPV test. “Doctors test for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix during your pap smear, but the HPV test can determine which people are at high risk for developing cancer,” Dr. Abaid said. “Talk to your doctor about whether an HPV test is appropriate for you.”
Want to learn more? Reach out to your doctor and schedule an appointment at www.hoagmedicalgroup.com.