Women's Health Last updated on 2023-01-25 11:53:00
Cervical Cancer Prevention: HPV Vaccination, Pap tests, Risk factors & more
- Dr Pavani Battula
- 7 Min Read
- Fact Checked
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and at MFine, we are trying to do our bit.
According to WHO, Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, with an estimated 604 000 new cases and 342 000 deaths in 2020. About 90% of the new cases and deaths worldwide in 2020 occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
Even with the presence of vaccination, this number is increasing. Let’s understand why and the facts related to cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is a preventable disease that affects the cervix, a part of the female reproductive system. It is caused by HPV or human papillomavirus, which is a sexually transmitted infection.Table of contents:
- Get the HPV vaccine
- Get regular Pap tests
- Practice safe sex
- Quit smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep
- Practice self-care
- Follow-up care after abnormal Pap test results
- Special population recommendations
Get the HPV vaccine
HPV vaccination is the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that all girls and boys ages 11 and 12 receive the HPV vaccine. The vaccine can also be given to females and males as young as 9, and it can also be given to females and males up to age 45 who did not get the vaccine when they were younger.
The vaccine is given in a series of two or three shots, depending on the person’s age and vaccination schedule. The vaccine is highly effective in preventing HPV infections and has been shown to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by up to 90%.
It’s important to note that the vaccine does not treat existing HPV infections or cervical cancer. It only protects against future infections. That’s why regular cervical cancer screenings are still important even after getting the HPV vaccine.HPV vaccine: Does it work?
Get regular Pap tests
A Pap test, or a Pap smear is a screening test to detect abnormal cells on the cervix. It is a quick and easy procedure that is done by a healthcare practitioner. During the test procedure, a small sample of cells from the cervix is taken and examined under a microscope to see if there are any abnormal changes.
Doctors recommend that women begin getting regular Pap tests at age 21 and continue to do so every three years until age 65. Women who have a higher risk of cervical cancer or have had abnormal Pap test results in the past may need to be screened more frequently.
It’s also important to know that starting at age 30, women can have a combination of Pap test and HPV test, this is called co-testing, and it is recommended every three years as a screening method.
Follow-up care will be necessary if an abnormal Pap test result is found. This may include additional testing or treatment to remove abnormal cells before they turn cancerous.Let’s get rid of cancer together. It’s possible!
Practice safe sex
One way to reduce the risk of contracting HPV and cervical cancer is by practicing safe sex. This includes things like using condoms during sexual intercourse.
Another way to reduce the risk of contracting HPV is by limiting the number of sexual partners, i.e., the more sexual partners a person has, the greater the chance of being exposed to HPV.
It’s important to note that condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners may help lower the risk of HPV infection, but they do not eliminate the risk completely. HPV can also be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, even if a condom is used.Having sex for the first time? 7 tips to make it more enjoyable.
Smoking is a known risk factor for many types of cancer, including cervical cancer. Studies have shown that women who smoke are more likely to get cervical cancer than women who do not smoke.
The reason smoking increases the risk of cervical cancer is not fully understood, but it is believed that the chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the DNA in cervical cells, making them more susceptible to cancer. Additionally, smoking can weaken the body’s immune system, making it more difficult to fight off HPV and other infections that can lead to cervical cancer.
If you are a smoker and you are concerned about your risk of cervical cancer, it’s crucial to talk to your healthcare provider about your options for quitting smoking and to discuss the best prevention strategies for you.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese is a known risk factor for many types of cancer, including cervical cancer. Studies have shown that women who are overweight or obese are more likely to get cervical cancer than those who maintain a healthy weight.
The exact reason why being overweight or obese increases the risk of cervical cancer is not fully understood, but it is believed that excess body fat may lead to an increase in inflammation and hormonal changes in the body, both of which can increase the risk of cancer.
It’s also important to note that in some cases, weight gain can be a symptom of other health conditions, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you notice sudden weight gain or if you have difficulties losing weight.
Read about 5 everyday tweaks toward a healthy lifestyle.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet rich in wholesome fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods has been shown to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Studies have shown that women who eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk of cervical cancer than women who eat a diet low in wholesome fruits and vegetables.
A healthy diet is one that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods are high in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can help to protect the body against cancer-causing agents.
Fruits and vegetables are particularly beneficial for cervical cancer prevention as they are high in antioxidants, which can help protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Since they are also high in fiber, they help regulate digestion, maintain a healthy weight, and other important micronutrients.
It’s also important to remember that a healthy diet is just one piece of the puzzle; therefore, it’s important to combine it with regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight, along with getting regular cervical cancer screenings and the HPV vaccine.
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is an essential part of maintaining overall health and well-being. Recent studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of cervical cancer.
The exact reason why lack of sleep increases the risk of cervical cancer is not fully understood, but it is thought that the chronic stress caused by sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in inflammation and hormonal changes in the body, both of which can contribute to the development of cancer.
Additionally, lack of sleep can disrupt the body’s natural rhythms and disrupt the balance of hormones that regulate cell growth and repair, which can lead to the development of cancer.
It’s recommended to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night for adults and for teenagers between 8-10 hours. It’s also important to have consistent sleep patterns, like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.Sleep like a baby by following these sleep hygiene tips.
Self-care includes taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health through various activities and habits.
One of the most crucial aspects of self-care is reducing stress. Chronic stress may lead to an increase in inflammation and hormonal changes in the body, both of which can contribute to the development of cancer. Finding ways to reduce stress, such as through meditation, yoga, journaling, or other activities that help you relax, can help lower your risk of cervical cancer.
Another important aspect of self-care is regular exercise. Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, which is an important factor in cervical cancer prevention. Exercise can also help to boost the immune system, which can help to protect against cancer-causing agents.
It’s also important to stay informed about your health and to have regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. This includes keeping up with your regular cervical cancer screenings, getting the HPV vaccine, and discussing your individual risk for cervical cancer and the best prevention strategies for you.
Lastly, self-care is about taking care of yourself emotionally and mentally. This includes finding ways to stay positive and optimistic, maintaining healthy relationships, and taking care of your mental health.
Read about the MFine ONE Membership program to practice self-care and better manage your health.
Follow-up care after abnormal Pap test results
Follow-up care depends on the type of abnormal cells found and the patient’s circumstances. The options for follow-up care may include repeating Pap tests, colposcopy, and biopsy.
It’s also important to note that having an abnormal Pap test result does not mean that a woman has cervical cancer. It just means that the test found abnormal cells on the cervix that need further evaluation.
Follow-up care is crucial for cervical cancer prevention. It allows for early detection and treatment of abnormal cells before they become cancer.
Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable if detected early.
Special population recommendations
Cervical cancer prevention recommendations may vary for different populations based on their unique risk factors and health needs.
For women over 50: Doctors recommend that women over 65 who have had regular cervical cancer screenings with normal results may stop getting screened, but women with a history of cervical cancer or certain other risk factors may need to continue screening.
For young women: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that girls and boys ages 11 and 12 receive the HPV vaccine. Young women who have not been vaccinated should talk to their healthcare provider about getting the vaccine.
For women with HIV: Women living with HIV have a higher risk of cervical cancer. It is recommended that they get regular cervical cancer screenings, even if they are taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) and have a suppressed HIV viral load.
For women who have had a hysterectomy: Women who have had a hysterectomy, with or without removal of the ovaries, may not need to have cervical cancer screening if they have no history of cervical cancer or pre-cancer and no other risk factors. Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the ovaries should continue to have regular cervical cancer screenings.
For non-binary and trans individuals: Non-binary and trans individuals have the same risk of developing cervical cancer as cisgender individuals. If they have a cervix, it is recommended that they follow the same cervical cancer screening guidelines as cisgender women.
Postmenopausal women: Even though cervical cancer is more common in women under 65, postmenopausal women should still be aware of the risk and follow the appropriate preventive measures, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, getting regular physical activity, etc.
It’s important to remember that cervical cancer is most treatable when it is detected early. That’s why regular cervical cancer screenings and follow-up care after abnormal Pap test results are so important. Women should talk to their healthcare providers about the best prevention strategies for them, including the appropriate time to start and end cervical cancer screenings and the frequency of screenings.
We encourage all women to talk to their healthcare providers about cervical cancer prevention, including HPV vaccination and regular cervical cancer screenings. It’s essential to take control of your health and to take steps to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.Speak to a gynecologist now!
Check out these videos
Was this article helpful?
- 0 0
- Symptoms of PCOS in Females
Read more on Women's Health
Love reading our articles?
Subscribe to never miss a post again!