According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, but more than 14,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease this year. Cervical cancer is often stigmatized due to its association with the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, however, HPV is extremely common, affecting most adults. Some people may also feel uncomfortable asking their doctor about sexual health. When it comes to ending stigma, information matters—and your doctor can help answer your questions—even if you feel embarrassed.
James K. Aikins, Jr., MD, FACOG, FACS, chief of Gynecological Oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and associate professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine , answers questions about cervical cancer and HPV that you might be embarrassed to ask.
What is the link between HPV and cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is almost always caused by HPV, to which nearly every sexually active person will be exposed in their lifetime. People with healthy immune systems can clear the virus within one to two years, but when high-risk strains infect specific cells of the cervix, it can lead to the development of an infection. abnormal cell growth and precancerous changes. Over time and persistent infection, this can lead to cervical cancer.
How to prevent cervical cancer?
An effective vaccine is available for both men and women starting at age 9 to prevent cancer caused by HPV infection. Regular Pap tests and HPV tests can detect precancerous changes that occur in cells and can eventually become cervical cancer. Women between the ages of 21 and 65 are usually screened, but frequency varies based on age and other factors.
Should I continue to be screened if I have had the HPV vaccine?
Correct. It is important to continue cervical cancer screening, even if you and your partner have had the HPV vaccine.
What if I’m too embarrassed to have a cervical screening or Pap test?
If you’re worried about a Pap test, you’re not alone, but it’s important to remember that a few minutes of discomfort can save your life. Also, remember that doctors don’t judge you—their main concern is your health.
If I have an abnormal Pap result, does this mean I have cervical cancer?
While an abnormal Pap result may seem scary, an abnormal result doesn’t necessarily mean you have cervical cancer.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Early-stage cervical cancer often has no obvious warning signs. Symptoms usually don’t start to appear until the cancer has grown larger and has spread to nearby organs or tissues. Symptoms can include unusual vaginal bleeding, heavy periods, and pain in or around your pelvic area.
Is cervical cancer contagious?
Cervical cancer not contagious, so women who have cervical cancer No need to worry about the spread of disease. However, HPV is contagious and can cause other cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, and back of the throat. Because high-risk strains of the virus do not show any symptoms, women or men may not know they are infected, so it is important to women to undergo regular screening.
quote: Q&A: What is the link between HPV and cervical cancer? (2022, December 28) retrieved December 28, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-12-qa-hpv-cervical-Cancer.html
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