January 4, 2019
Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women around the globe. Nearly every case of cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) — a group of more than 150 related viruses. HPV vaccinations and Pap tests can help prevent and detect cervical cancer so women can reduce their risk and stay healthy throughout their life.
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Here’s what you need to know about preventing and detecting cervical cancer using the vaccine and Pap tests.
When Can Females Receive the HPV Vaccine?
Of the more than 150 types of HPV, roughly 40 can be transmitted sexually. Of those 40 types, about 15 are considered high-risk, cancer-causing viruses. The HPV vaccine can protect against the types of HPV that commonly cause cervical cancer
The HPV vaccine is recommended for both males and females between the ages of 9 and 26. Youth between the ages of 9 and 14 who receive the HPV vaccine should receive a second dose between 6 and 12 months after the first dose. Teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 26 who receive the HPV vaccine should receive a second dose 1 to 2 months after the first dose, followed by a third dose 6 months following the first dose.
How Is Cervical Cancer Detected?
Cervical cancer can be detected using a Pap test or HPV test. A Pap test, also known as a Pap smear, is when a doctor takes a sample of cells from the cervix to check for abnormal cells that may develop into cervical cancer. An HPV test is similar to a Pap test but detects the presence of HPV, which can cause abnormal cell changes in the cervix.
When Should Women Be Screened for Cervical Cancer?
Doctors recommend that women have their first Pap test at the age of 21. Those who have normal test results can wait 3 years before having their next Pap test.
Women aged 30 years and older can be screened for cervical cancer using a Pap test, HPV test, or both. Women who receive a normal Pap test result can wait 3 years before having the next test, while those who receive a normal HPV test result can wait 5 years before the next test. Women who choose to have both tests together at the same time may wait 5 years for the next test if the results come back normal.
Healthcare Associates of Texas offers a full range of women’s healthcare services, including HPV vaccinations and cervical cancer screenings. Request an appointment today or call us at (972) 258-7499 to receive a screening and reduce your risk for cervical cancer.