Vaccine for cervical cancer?
by The Press and Standard | January 25, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: January 23, 2019 at 1:08 pm
A vaccine against cancer? It’s not the future, it’s real. The HPV vaccine can prevent the leading cause of cervical cancer in men and women alike. Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the cervix. Fortunately, cervical cancer can be prevented if precancerous cell changes are detected and treated early.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer. HPV can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. In most cases, the HPV virus is harmless and causes no symptoms. In fact, many young women who become infected with HPV are able to clear the infection through their own immune systems. However, certain high-risk types of HPV can cause cervical lesions. Over time, these may develop into cancer if untreated.
“Testing for cervical health risks can help prevent or treat symptoms and the disease much earlier. Prevention and early detection are key to battling any cancer,” says Dr. Angela Fisher from Walterboro OBGYN. “We have the ability to prevent many cases of cervical cancer with the HPV vaccine. Pap smears allow us to test for and then treat early changes that could progress to cervical cancer.”
General recommendations for cervical cancer screening:
Between the ages of 21-65 years
Stopping in women older than 65 with normal testing in the past 10 years
Ages 21-29 years—Pap smear every three years without HPV testing
Ages 30-65 years—Pap smear and HPV testing every five years or Pap smear alone every three years
Each woman has individual circumstances and risk factors. Talk to your doctor about how often you should be screened for cervical cancer.
Questions to ask your doctor
To find out whether HPV testing is right for you, be sure to ask your doctor the following questions on your next doctor visit:
Am I a candidate for an HPV test as part of my cervical cancer screening program?
Do you provide HPV testing as a follow-up to help clarify inconclusive Pap test results?
If I have an inconclusive Pap test result, can you ask the lab to perform an automatic HPV test from the same Pap sample?
Will my insurance cover the HPV test?