Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
Cervical cancer awareness month is in January, so we should all remember to schedule our annual exam with screening pap smears! Everyone over the age of 21 needs to be screened at regular intervals for cervical cancer. At Metro, we do this easily in the office with liquid-based cytology, where we scrape some cells off the cervix and submit them to the pathologist for evaluation. We can also offer testing for Human Papilloma Virus or HPV, which is linked to a lot of cervical dysplasia, pre-cancer, and cancer.
Screening is the most effective tool which decreases the incidence of cervical cancer. In fact, over the last 30 years, rates of cervical cancer decreased by more than 50% because of screening advances! With the newest guidelines from the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, we may recommend annual screening, contesting with HPV at regular intervals, or to stop screening based on your age and risk factors. Yet, still more than 45,000 cancers are attributed to HPV yearly!
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States. It is transmitted by skin contact and mucus membrane contact. Primary HPV incidence can be decreased by vaccination, and since 2006, Gardasil has been providing protection against the main subtypes of cancer and wart-causing HPV! The vaccine is available to people ages 9-26, but women through age 45 who are at risk of new infection can still get vaccinated, with many major pharmacies carrying the vaccine.
Gardasil has changed the game for colposcopies and larger excision procedures of the cervix. The vaccine prevents over 97% of HPV-related cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and throat and can prevent over 99% of HPV-related genital warts. See your Metro doctor today to go over your risks, your customized screening plan for cervical cancer, and get your preventative vaccine if you are eligible!