There are several ways to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is no doubt a scary diagnosis, but there are several ways to reduce you risk of ever developing the disease. January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and a great time to learn what you can do.
1. Get the HPV vaccine. Vaccines that protect against the types of human papilloma virus most closely associated with cervical cancer are available for females from age nine to age 26. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by a strain of HPV.
2. Get routine pap smears. A pap test is an effective tool for detecting dysplasia, the precancerous condition that can develop into cervical cancer. Because cervical cancer typically develops slowly, a pap test can find the precancerous cells when they are easily treatable.
3. Follow up abnormal pap results as your doctor advises. Because the pap smear test is so effective, most cases of cervical cancer are instances of women not getting regular pap tests or not following up abnormal results properly.
4. Limit the number of sexual partners you have. The fewer partners you have, the less chance of being exposed to HPV.
5. Use condoms when having sexual intercourse. Likewise, the use of condoms helps protect against HPV.
6. Don't smoke. Research has shown that smoking increases your risk of developing cancer.
To learn more about reducing your risk of cervical cancer, including whether the HPV vaccine is right for you and when you should be getting pap tests, talk with your doctor. Need to find a doctor? Use our online Find a Physician service or call our Physician Referral Line at 1-855-296-6265.