According to the World Health Organisation, Cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in women.
January is celebrated as cervical cancer awareness month to raise awareness about the causes, prevention and facts of the condition and counter misinformation.
HPV (Human papillomavirus) is the most common risk factor for cervical cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
There are various types of HPV but HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the main cancer causing culprits. HPV can cause other types of cancer as well.
According to the American Cancer Society, the two things to prevent cervical cancer is to get the HPV shot and to go for regular screenings so that it can be diagnosed at an early stage avoiding the further complications.
Let's have a look on things we can do to prevent or reduce the risk of cervical cancer in detail.
Make Appointments For Regular Screenings
According to American Cancer Society, regular screenings are important if a person wants to prevent cervical cancer because it will help them to know about the pre-cancerous cells which might not be that harmful and it can also help detect cancer at an early stage wherein the cancer can be removed entirely or treated with medications only.
There are certain guidelines given by the ACS which must be followed like:
People between 21 to 29 years must take a pap test every 3 years
People between the age of 30 to 65 years must take a pap and HPV test every 5 years
Get a HPV Vaccine
There are 40 types of harmful HPV and some of HPV infections can lead to cancers like penile cancer, vaginal cancer, cervical cancer, anal cancer, throat cancer and genital warts.
Earlier people between the age of 9 to 26 years were only eligible for HPV vaccine but now 27 years and above can also get vaccinated and the people who fall under the non-eligible category include:
severely or mildly ill people
people who had a reaction to HPV vaccine previously
There might be a few side effects after the vaccination like abdominal pain, muscle or joint pain, nausea, redness, swelling, pain, etc. Therefore, ask your doctor before getting yourself or your child vaccinated.
Avoid Exposure to HPV
According to the recommendations given by the cancer.net people must avoid certain things if they want to take a step further to protect themselves from cervical cancer. These include:
Avoid having multiple sex partners
Avoid having sex with a person with multiple partners
Avoid having sex with people tested for genital warts or showing any related symptoms.
Though HPV virus might not show symptoms at all times, it is important to understand that some HPV may cause genital warts, skin warts, etc. while some may cause other types of cancer.
According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, it is important that you use condoms or dental dams during sex. Though it is important to understand that condoms do not cover all the HPV infected areas like anal, genital, skin and others.
Though use of condoms cannot ensure prevention of cervical cancer but is definitely related to lower number of cases and it also protects both the partners from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
According to the US NIH, tobacco and other toxic chemicals found in cigarettes' have been found in the cervical mucus of women.
Moreover, tobacco affects the DNA of the cervix cells in a negative way which increases the risk of development of cervical cancer and it also limits the potential of the immune system to fight against HPV infection which later lead to cervical cancer.
It is better you reduce the frequency or completely quit the habit of smoking if you want to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
(This article is for your general information only. Before trying out any remedy, or treatment, FIT advises you to consult a qualified medical professional.)
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