Every woman has the opportunity to reduce the chances of getting this condition by taking effective preventative measures.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists lists some of the risk factors of this disease and gives some guidelines for reducing them.
- Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is a common virus that is spread through sexual intercourse. Certain types of HPV have a higher chance of causing cervical cancer. These are called high-risk types of HPV; other types cause genital warts.
- There are vaccines available that can protect women from the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. This is recommended for girls and women between ages 9 and 26. It is administered in a series of two injections to women between ages 9 and 14, and in a series of three injections to young women over age 14. Girls and young women who are sexually active can even be protected with the vaccine if they have never been infected.
- Practicing safe sex by using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners you have over time can also help reduce your risk of getting HPV and cervical cancer.
- Smoking increases your risk of getting it.
- Cervical cancer develops slowly. It begins with precancerous changes called dysplasia, which can be detected with a pap smear.
Related article: Focus on cervical cancer