Cervical cancer is a cancer that can in some cases be effectively prevented. With modern medicine cervical cancer is able to be detected at very early stages of development using the Pap smear and Human Papillomvirus test (HPV). Symptoms of cervical cancer can be evasive and difficult to pinpoint so having tests and vaccines makes early detection a much more feasible reality. Ways to prevent cervical cancer are discussed below.
For females over the age of 21 it is recommended to begin getting a pap smear done during visits to the doctor. While many people have this test done it may not be known what the pap smear is actually used for. The process of a pap smear is to determine if you have cervical cancer or cervical pre-cancer. This is accomplished by collecting cells via a swab. These cells are then observed under a microscope where a pathologist will asses the cells to ensure that they are cancer free. A pap smear has played a critical role in early detection of cervical cancers. Canada since implementation has seen the number of cervical cancer mortalities decrease to half of what they were in the 1960s. Through this well-implemented screening, many lives have been saved and many more extreme cases of cervical cancer have been prevented.
The Human Papillomvirus is a virus that is correlated with cervical cancer. There are two main categories of HPV. Low-risk HPV is considered low risk because of its tendency to not become cancer while high-risk HPV can increase one’s chances of getting cervical cancer significantly. The HPV test is often ties bundled together with a pap smear as the procedure is very similar. The cells are taken to a lab where they are assessed and tested for HPV indicators. A high-risk HPV positive result would indicate that the individual can be at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer and should take preventative measures like more frequent pap smears and other screenings.
The HPV vaccine is one of the best ways an individual with no family history of cancer can prevent getting cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine acts by introducing parts of the virus to your body. The body’s natural immune system then takes those viral fragments and is able to identify the virus and destroy it. After getting the vaccine your body is more equipped to deal with the virus and gives you immunity to it. The HPV vaccine is safe for both males and females and is the ideal way to prevent HPV associated cervical cancers. Getting the HPV vaccine at the age of 11-12 is recommended by the CDC and other health organizations. Getting the vaccine early ensures that you are protected from the virus before you are able to come into contact with it.
If a relative has been diagnosed with cancer it may be worthwhile to invest into getting genetic testing done. There is a genetic basis for many diseases but with cancer it can be extremely helpful to know about these traits you may have received. If you know that you are in an at-risk population you are able to take better precautions to prevent and detect cancers early.
Overall cancer is difficult to completely prevent. If you are dealt a particular set of genes or if you are constantly exposed to carcinogens the chances of getting cancer increase. By living a healthy lifestyle, choosing to get vaccinations, and regular screenings are the best tools we have to prevent cancer. These tools are fairly effective in either preventing or minimizing the cancers progression. By taking charge of your health you are able to create the best health outcomes for you.