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Cervical Cancer 300In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, a woman will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. That’s 13,000 women in the United States every year. Of those, more than 4,000 will die but that doesn’t have to happen because cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. 

Abnormal cell changes in the cervix that lead to cervical cancer can be detected years before the cancer develops. These cell changes are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) that is transmitted through sexual activity.

Some women believe that being in a monogamous relationship means they’re safe from HPV. It’s true that people who’ve had fewer sexual partners are less likely to be infected, but studies show that three out of four sexually active adults today have had a genital HPV infection.

The traditional method for early detection of cervical cancer is the Pap test and it’s important for every woman to have this test beginning at age 21. Testing for HPV should also be included in your healthcare screenings beginning at age 30.

Another myth is that women who are past reproductive age no longer need regularly scheduled Pap tests. Surveys have shown that one-half of all women age 60 and older have not had a Pap test in the past three years.

Continued Pap tests after menopause are recommended because HPV can recur years later. That’s why you need a gynecology checkup and exam each year with a women's healthcare provider like those at Northline Women’s Health Center in Brownstown and Southgate, Michigan. How often a Pap test will be done is based on a recommendation from your doctor that takes into account your age and risk status.

Another important aspect of cervical cancer prevention is HPV vaccination. This cannot cure a previous HPV infection but it can protect you from one in the future. That’s why the HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls and women between the ages of 11 and 45. The vaccine should also be administered to boys and young men to help prevent the spread of HPV.

Some believe that early HPV vaccinations lead to more sexual promiscuity in young people but there’s no evidence to support this theory. What we do know is that every girl or woman who’s vaccinated against HPV will have protection for the rest of her life from a common infection that’s the leading cause of cervical cancer.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax