What to Know About HPV and Cervical Cancer

Summary Points

  • The importance of knowing about cervical cancer
  • The symptoms
  • Who is at more risk of developing cervical cancer?
  • Screenings

Approximately 4,300 women will die from cervical cancer1. Cervical cancer is cancer of a women’s reproductive system that directly involves the cervix that connects the vaginal canal and uterus1. All women are at risk for developing cervical cancer. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex1. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives1.

There are other things that can increase your risk of cervical cancer2:

  • Women over the age of 30
  • Smoking
  • Having HIV or being immunocompromised
  • Having multiple sexual partners or initiating sex at a young age
  • Being on birth control pills for 5 years or more
  • Poor diet
  • Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (a drug given in the 1950s to prevent miscarriages)

Screening tests and the HPV vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer. If cervical cancer is detected early, it is treatable. Screenings through regular Pap Smears starting at age 21 or at the time sexual activity begins. There are many ways to prevent cervical cancer. Talk to your provider about the HPV vaccine, the vaccine prevents approximately 90% of cervical cancers2. You can also abstain from sexual activity and/or use protection whenever you have sexual intercourse (male condom, female condoms, and dental dams). It is recommended that you do not smoke 1.

The early stages of cervical cancer have no signs or symptoms. The later stages include abnormal bleeding, vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, or pain during sex. Treatment plans can include surgery to remove cancer, radiation, or chemotherapy, or any combination of these three options.

The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority would like to encourage you to engage, educate, and empower in order to that make the best decisions regarding your health. While we cannot have control over every aspect of our health, we encourage you to take the steps toward a happier and healthier you. Due to COVID-19, this make look different so choose something small like going for a walk, choosing a healthier snack option, etc. Remember that it is important to be kind to yourself. We hope that you stay healthy!

For more information on cervical cancer, feel free to visit our website and/or download our cervical cancer fact sheet here. Our community partners listed below, please feel free to reach out to them to schedule your Pap Smear.

Good Samaritan Health Center

Urban Health and Wellness

Center for Black Women’s Wellness

Empowerment Resource Center

 

Author:

Ashley Yates
Program Associate

 

 

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control (2019). Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/
  2. American Cancer Society (2021). Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer.html

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