The topic of Cervical Cancer is a serious subject for all women, but there are a lot of women who don’t have all the important information they might need to protect themselves and their daughters regarding the cancer. Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States, but it is often the most common form of Cancer in women in economically underdeveloped countries across the world. In terms of death rates, only breast cancer causes more deaths worldwide. Cancer of the Cervix begins in a precancerous stage called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia which does not always develop into cancer, but has a high chance if left untreated. According to a 2008 study by the American Cancer Society 11,000 women would be diagnosed that year with cervical cancer with 3,800 of them dying. Of these women, minorities will have a higher chance of getting the cancer. Half of the women who get this cancer will be between the ages of 30-55, so it isn’t very age specific. While these might be sobering statistics, the good news is that armed with information and the proper screenings, cervical cancer can be largely prevented for all women.
HPV is a family of viruses that causes mostly all Cervical Cancers. There are over 100 strains of HPV and over 35 known types which can infect the genital tract but 2, types 16 and 18 cause 70% of the Cervical Cancers. Although HPV infections rarely lead to any Cancer as the body normally destroys the infection this is not always the case. Sometimes these HPV infections can lay in the cervical cells for a long time, even years before they can lead to harmful changes in the cells that can cause cancer. This is why regular pap testing is Vital. It is these Pap tests that can detect these cell changes before they become cancerous so you can deal with them. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, and since there are usually no symptoms when you get it, it is very important that women receive regular pap tests, because this is often their first sign that they have it.
If you do have an abnormal cell reading at your Pap test you can get tested for HPV. Some doctors no not automatically test for both, which is why it is essential that every woman ask for an HPV test at the time of every Pap test. I urge all of you to not only do this yourselves at every Pap test but make sure to alert every woman you know to do this, as the doctor might not always recommend having both tests. Since signs of the infection can appear up to years after the infection it is important to get an HPV test at every pap test. Most HPV tests will come up negative as usually the infection will clear on its own, but you don’t want to take any chances that you will neglect it and it eventually becomes cancerous. You also want to make sure to take advantage of the many treatments available for changes in your cervix due to HPV, even if it is not yet cancerous. There is also now a cervical cancer vaccine for girls between the ages of 9-26 that attempts to block out HPV before it even has a chance to infect you. This is a topic that you and your daughter should be discussing with each other and your health care provider to take the first step in actively preventing contacting HPV in the first place. I urge you all not to be embarrassed in talking to your daughters as nothing is more important than their health. It is also important to remember that it is a sexually transmitted disease, and the risk of HPV goes up if girls are having sex at a younger age, having sex with multiple partners, or smoking. The reality is that many young girls are engaging in multiples of these behaviors without fully recognizing the consequences. Studies have also shown that condoms do not fully protect against HPV, so even when they think they are protecting themselves they might not be. It is essential that you talk to them about this information. If you develop cervical cancer there are a variety of treatments available that depend on the woman’s age, health, and a multitude of other factors that you can discuss with your doctors. However armed with the right information we can do a lot to prevent HPV infections from ever reaching that point by arming ourselves and our daughters and friends with the information we need to know and advocating on behalf of our health ourselves and making sure to get an HPV Test with every Pap test. For additional information regarding HPV and cervical cancer, please visit the following site and pass it on to your friends and family, thank you.Here you can watch doctor-produced videos, browse frequently-asked-questions, access tips on “what your test results mean” and download/link to educational materials.
“I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of the QIAGEN digene HPV test. Mom Central also sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”