How to prevent cervical cancer

Cervical cancer often can be prevented through regular screenings and vaccinations for children and young adults. Find out what you can do to protect yourself and those closest to you.

Cervical cancer often can be prevented through regular screenings and vaccinations for children and young adults. According to the American Cancer Society, about 14,100 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed in 2022.

Ways to help prevent cervical cancer

The best steps that can be taken to prevent cervical cancer include the following:

  • Vaccinations (the Gardasil vaccination can be given to boys and girls as young as 9 and young adults up to age 45)
  • Minimizing exposure (abstaining, wearing barrier protection such as condoms, having fewer partners)
  • Following recommended screening guidelines

“This is one of the truly curable gynecological cancers if detected at an early stage,” said Justin W. Gorski, M.D., gynecologic oncologist with Norton Cancer Institute. “The Pap smear really does save lives, and the vaccine is a complete game changer. It gives us the opportunity to eradicate cervical cancer if widely used.”

Screening for cervical cancer

Cervical Pap screenings should begin at age 21. Based on the results, a patient then can continue with routine screening or begin more intensive surveillance. The screening also can detect whether steps need to be taken to address any concerns.

Early signs of cervical cancer

Often there are no signs, which is why regular screening is so important. Abnormal screening Pap smears, bleeding after intercourse, irregular bleeding, discharge or pain can be signs associated with cervical cancer.

Risk factors for cervical cancer

The biggest risk factor is exposure to HPV, a virus that is widespread. There are hundreds of strains of HPV. Some of these are considered “high risk” strains for developing cervical cancer. Most sexually active women will be exposed to HPV at some time in their life.

Preventing cervical cancer

Discuss getting the HPV vaccine for yourself and those close to you with your primary care provider. If you’re ready for Pap smear screenings, make an appointment with your gynecologist today.

Request an appointment online

Call (502) 629-4GYN (4496)

In addition to HPV, smoking and immunocompromised states (HIV, transplant patients on anti-rejection medications or other immunosuppressive medications) are additional risk factors for developing cervical cancer.

What’s the latest treatment for cervical cancer?

Standard treatment for cervical cancer typically includes surgery (only if it is caught early enough), radiation with chemotherapy, or chemotherapy alone. If the cancer returns or progresses, additional chemotherapies or clinical trials may be available.

How will the HPV vaccine for boys prevent cervical cancer?

Vaccinating both girls and boys could reduce the incidence and prevalence of the viruses that cause cervical cancer. So far in studies, vaccine efficacy against HPV is very high — 90.4%.

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