The most common form of cervical cancer starts with pre-cancerous changes and there are several ways to stop this from developing. The first way is to find and treat pre-cancers before they develop into invasive cancers, and the second is to prevent the pre-cancers in the first place with regular screening tests. Screenings are done to find conditions that may lead to cancers and to detect any pre-cancers before they can turn into invasive cancer. Pap and HPV tests are used during screening for cervical cancer to determine one’s risk of developing cervical cancer. If the test is positive, this could mean a follow-up visit with your doctor, more tests and possibly a procedure to treat any pre-cancers that might be found. It’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider about your screening test results in detail to fully understand your risk of developing cervical cancer and next steps.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. HPV may go away on its own, but when it doesn’t it can progress into cervical cancer. The good news is that there is a vaccine available that helps prevent HPV in the first place. According to the CDC, “Children who get the first dose before their 15th birthday only need two doses. People who get the first dose on or after their 15th birthday need three doses. The HPV vaccine series is most effective when given before a person is ever exposed to the virus.”1 It’s important to know that no vaccine provides complete protection against all cancer-causing types of HPV, so routine cervical cancer screening is still needed. To learn more information about HPV and the vaccine, visit the CDC website here.