6 Ways That May Help Avoid Cervical Cancer: From Regular Pap Tests To Not Smoking

Date February 2, 2018

Cervical cancer is a less common type of cancer and is responsible for just 0.8% of cancers in the United States. The disease is highly treatable if found early, which stresses the importance of having annual gynecological exams. The majority of cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), and there is a vaccine available for the strains of HPV that carry the most risk.

Vaccines are the most effective if administered before a girl or when a boy becomes sexually active. And there is an age limit for HPV vaccines: girls and women can get them until they turn 26, and for boys and men, the upper age limit is 21. But even if you're too old for a vaccine, there are other things you can do to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

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Here's what can help you prevent the disease:

Pap tests

During a Pap test, your doctor scrapes a small amount of tissue from your cervix to look for abnormal cells that indicate precancerous or cancerous changes. American Cancer Society advises women aged 21 to 29 to have a Pap test every three years. Women aged 30 to 65 are recommended to have Pap tests every 3 to 5 years.

HPV test

This test can be done together with Pap test and is recommended for women aged 30 and older.

Vaccines against HPV

HPV vaccines work best if they are administered before a girl or a boy has his/her first sexual contact. Obviously, men can't get cervical cancer, but HPV infection increases their risk of other types of the disease, such as throat cancer.

Ask your child's pediatrician whether he or she should get vaccinated, and when is the right time to get this vaccine.

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Safe sex

To avoid becoming infected with HPV, it's important to use proper protection during sexual intercourse and have fewer sexual partners throughout life. It's best to have one regular partner who also doesn't have sex with other people.

Limiting the use of birth control pills

Using oral contraceptives for long periods of time may increase your risk of cervical cancer. Ask your doctor about risks of taking birth control pills, how long it's OK for you to use them, and alternative methods of birth control.

Not smoking

Smoking doubles the risk of getting cervical cancer. Not smoking decreases your risk of the disease and other types of cancer, and is immensely beneficial for your overall health.

Source: American Cancer Society, HealthLine, WebMD, NCI

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.