Regular screening and the HPV vaccine are two tools in the fight to prevent this cancer
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. The Harris School of Business wants you to learn more about how you can protect yourself from getting cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 die as a result.
One of the major causes of cervical cancer is HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, and many others with HPV may not even know they are infected.
The good news: two tools to prevent cervical cancer
There are two major tools in preventing cervical cancer. One is the HPV vaccine. This is usually administered at age 11 or 12 to both boys and girls. It is best to get the vaccine at this age, when your immune response is stronger, but the vaccine can still be administered as late as age 26 in women and age 21 in men.
The second tool to help prevent cervical cancer is regular screening tests (Pap tests). Pap tests can help detect abnormal cells before they become cancerous, so that you can get the proper treatment to prevent cancer cells from developing.
Here are the recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- Women should start getting regular Pap tests at age 21
- Parents should make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
- If teens and young adults did not get the HPV vaccine as pre-teens, they should get it now. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.
- Don’t avoid the doctor out of concern that you can’t afford it—many insurance plans cover “well visits” for free. If you do not have insurance, look for a local clinic that offers screenings at a free or reduced cost.
While there are many types of cancer that have no proven prevention techniques, cervical cancer is one type of cancer that can largely be prevented. With these relatively simple steps, you can help protect yourself and your pre-teen/young adult children from this type of cancer.
Resources about Cervical Cancer and HPV
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition offers a variety of resources to help you better understand the prevention of cervical cancer and HPV. One of the goals of this organization is to help people to become more comfortable talking about these topics and erase any sense of shame or avoidance of gynecological visits. Here are resources that can help.
We hope this information and these resources help you get the facts about preventing cervical cancer. Please share this information with friends and family. Remember, taking these small steps toward prevention can make all the difference.
The Harris School of Business is proud to join in Cervical Cancer Awareness Month by helping to spread the word about preventing cervical cancer. As a provider of career-focused training in allied health fields, we want to promote healthy habits among our students and the public. For more information about our school, visit us online.