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Cervical Cancer (cont.)

Cervical Cancer Prevention

The key to preventing invasive cervical cancer is to detect any cell changes early, before they become cancerous. Regular pelvic examinations and Pap smears are the best way to do this. How often a woman should have a pelvic exam and Pap smear depends on her individual situation.

  • Women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have Pap tests every 3 years.
  • Women over age 30 may opt to have HPV and Pap co-testing every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years.
  • If a woman has had precancerous changes or cancer of the cervix, her gynecologist will recommend a schedule of follow-up examinations and tests.
  • Women who have had the HPV vaccine (see below) should still have Pap tests.

Avoidance of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is becoming increasingly important in the prevention of precancerous and cancerous changes of the cervix.

  • Early age at first intercourse is associated with increased risk. Abstinence is recommended as one way to prevent the transmission of HPV.
  • Likewise, barrier protection, such as condom use, may prevent HPV infection, although this has not yet been fully studied.

Two vaccines have been approved for the prevention of HPV infection. Both vaccines are given in three doses over a six-month period.

Gardasil is a vaccine that targets four different types of HPV. It is approved for use in females for the prevention of cervical cancer, and some vulvar and vaginal cancers, caused by HPV types 16 and 18, and for use in males and females for the prevention of anal cancer and precancerous anal lesions caused by HPV types 16 and 18. Gardasil is also approved for the prevention of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. The vaccine is approved for these uses in females and males ages 9 to 26.

The Cervarix vaccine targets two HPV types: 16 and 18, which are the types associated with the majority of cervical cancers. The FDA has approved Cervarix for use in females aged 9 to 25 for the prevention of cervical cancer caused by HPV types 16 and 18.

Cigarette smoking is another risk factor for cervical cancer that can be prevented. Quitting smoking may decrease your chances of developing cervical cancer.

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Cervical Cancer - Diagnosis

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cervical Cancer »

Cervical cancer is the second most common malignancy in women worldwide, and it remains a leading cause of cancer-related death for women in developing countries.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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