Posts Tagged ‘cervical cancer’

Vaccinations protect against HPV

Friday, August 8th, 2014

immunizationsHuman papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that is spread through sexual contact. There are about 40 types of HPV. Some types of HPV cause genital warts in both men and women. Others can increase a woman’s chance of cervical cancer and can cause other types of cancer in both men and women. However, a vaccine is available that can help prevent HPV infection.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that you can get from having sex with someone who is infected. You can get a STD from vaginal, anal or oral sex. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. According to the CDC, “HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.” At this time, about 79 million Americans are infected with HPV and approximately 14 million people become infected each year.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and many people do not know they were ever infected. If HPV does not go away, however, then it is possible to develop genital warts or cancer. Unfortunately there is no way to know if you will develop cancer or other health problems if you have HPV.

Get vaccinated
One of the easiest ways you can reduce your risk of getting HPV is to get vaccinated. Two vaccines against HPV are available in the US. The vaccines are recommended for girls and boys between the ages of 11 to 12 years old.  Vaccination is also recommended for teen girls and young women through age 26 and teen boys through age 21, if they did not get the vaccine when they were younger.

Both vaccines protect against the two types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. One vaccine also protects against two additional types of HPV that cause most genital warts. The HPV vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy.

If you have HPV and get pregnant, you can get genital warts or develop abnormal cell changes on your cervix. These changes can be found during routine cervical cancer screening, such as a Pap smear. At your first prenatal checkup, your doctor will do a Pap smear to check for cervical cancer and other tests for vaginal infections.

What is human papillomavirus, HPV?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Each year in the United States, about 19 million individuals contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Genital warts are a form of the most common STI.

Genital warts are pink, white or gray swellings in the genital area caused by a large group of viruses called human papillomaviruses (HPVs). Some of the viruses also increase the risk of cervical cancer. Genital warts often appear in small, cauliflower-shaped clusters that may itch or burn. About 6.2 million individuals (1 percent of all sexually active adults) in this country become infected each year.

A vaccine against four major types of HPV is now routinely recommended for girls ages 11 to 12 years and girls and women between the ages of 13 and 26 who have not been previously vaccinated. This vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. Pregnant women should not get the vaccine.

Sometimes pregnancy-related hormones cause genital warts to grow. Occasionally, they may grow so large that they block the birth canal, making a cesarean section necessary. Rarely, an infected mother can pass the virus on to her baby, causing warts to grow on the baby’s vocal cords. A cesarean section is not recommended to protect the baby because this complication is rare, and the preventive effectiveness of cesarean delivery is not known.

If the warts grow large or make the woman uncomfortable, they can be safely removed during pregnancy with laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing). To learn more about HPV, read the CDC’s fact sheet.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) and focused on raising awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV and cervical cancer. NCCC wants you to make sure you and women in your life receive the HPV vaccine, and are screened regularly with a Pap and HPV test. Ask your healthcare provider about it today.

Pap smear – new recommendations

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

The Pap smear is the best way to screen for cervical cancer and yearly screening has been routinely recommended for a long time. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, however, is now recommending that screening be changed to once every three years.

The change, supported by various cancer groups including the American Cancer Society, comes from the belief that annual testing finds “a lot of benign infections that would go away on their own.” Philip Castle of the American Society for Clinical Pathology continued saying “You end up overscreening, overmanaging and overtreating women who are not actually at risk of getting cervical cancer.”

The task force was made up of primary care doctors who are experts in the field of evidence-based research. The cancer groups agreed that, for women who are not at increased risk for cervical cancer, testing every three years makes more sense. The cancer groups also agreed with the recommendation that women under the age of 21 do not need to be tested.

 If you’re not certain which schedule is best for you, talk with your health care provider about it.

ACOG revises Pap smear recommendations

Friday, November 20th, 2009

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) today announced new guidelines on Pap smears and cervical cancer screenings. The organization says that women can wait until they’re age 21 to have their first Pap tests. ACOG also says that women between the ages of 21 and 30 should have a Pap test and cervical cancer screening once every two years instead of once every year. Women aged 30 and older who’ve had no previous complications in their last three screenings can have a Pap test once every three years.

The organization revised its recommendations based on the latest research about Pap tests and cervical cancer rates, showing that most cervical cancer cases come from women who don’t regularly see health care providers. ACOG also says that data shows testing at two and three year intervals can be just as effective at preventing cervical cancer.

While these recommendations represent a shift in women’s health care, talk to your health provider about what is best for you.