Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer.
As we conclude Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we want to remind women of the importance of regular pap smear screenings and the HPV vaccine.
According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 12,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year, with more than 350 of these women coming from North Carolina.
“Cervical cancer is the easiest cancer to prevent and can often be prevented with regular screening tests, pap smears and follow-up care,” says Michael Sundborg, M.D., a board certified FirstHealth gynecologic oncologist at Southern Pines Women’s Health Center – a FirstHealth Clinic.
Michael Sundborg, M.D.
Cervical cancer usually takes years to progress.
This is why getting screened on a regular basis is important; screening can usually catch any potential problems before they progress.
The two most significant risk factors for cervical cancer are smoking and contracting HPV, a virus that is passed to a partner during intercourse.
The relationship between HPV and cervical cancer has been recognized for many years. More than 100 genotypes of HPV have been discovered to date. However, only 15 have been shown to be associated with cervical cancer. Approximately 70% of all cases of cervical cancer are associated with HPV.
The FDA has approved two HPV vaccines. Talk to your doctor about which will be best for you, and timing of vaccine.
- Get your pap smear as recommended by your physician! The pap test is a quick, simple and generally painless test that can help to detect abnormal cells. Women should begin having pap tests after the age of 21. Talk to your doctor about when to begin having pap tests and how often to have them.
- Get vaccinated. If you are of age, receive the HPV vaccination. Talk to your doctor about the vaccination that can help prevent cervical cancer.
To speak with a physician regarding women’s health, please call:
- Southern Pines Women’s Health Center – a FirstHealth Clinic, (910) 692-7928
- FirstHealth OB/GYN, (910) 417-3477
Most primary care physicians also provide these services. To find a FirstHealth Family Medicine location near you, click here or call (800) 213-3284.