Cervical Health Awareness Month
Vaccinations and screenings are essential tools in the fight against cervical cancer, a cancer that starts in the cells of the cervix and is typically caused by an HPV-linked infection. HPV or human papillomavirus is a common virus transmitted through sexual contact—in fact, most sexually active people will contract at least one of the many strains of HPV.
Some strains are harmless and are cleared by the immune system. However, others are linked to serious issues – namely, cervical cancer and other types of cancer as well as genital warts. The FDA-approved HPV vaccine can protect against those strains associated with cancer and warts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first immunization at age 11 or 12 to allow immunity to develop as well as Pap screening tests beginning at age 21.
Cervical Health Awareness Month in January provides an opportunity to discuss the importance of regular screenings and vaccinations.
“HPV is probably the vaccine we receive the most questions about at Clinic Sofia, and we are so glad you are asking!” said Dr. Amy Hammers. “The good news is that vaccination and regular screening can prevent cervical cancer, or help us detect it in its earliest stages.”
The World Health organization recently launched a Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative, which recognizes that “cervical cancer is preventable and curable, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively. Yet it is the 4th most common form of cancer among women worldwide, with the disease claiming the lives of more than 300,000 women in 2018.”
The goal is 90-70-90: 90 percent of girls are fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by age 15; 70 percent of women are screened with a high-performance test by age 35 and again at 45; and 90 percent of women with pre-cancer are treated and 90 percent of invasive cancer is managed.
If you have questions about HPV, Pap smears or cervical cancer, please let us know.