With January being recognized as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, local Obstetric/Gynecologist, Yasmin Wilkinson, MD wanted to share the importance of being screened and options for prevention by vaccination.
PAP smears save lives! Over 13,000 women are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer - and PAP smears are an important first step to preventing the progression of abnormal cervical cells to cervical cancer. The PAP smear itself (performed by a physician during a pelvic exam) screens for abnormal cells of the cervix. These cell abnormalities are caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), a sexually transmitted virus that causes genital warts, cervical dysplasia (pre-cancerous cell abnormalities), anal dysplasia, and some forms of throat cancer. PAP and HPV screening is super important in the early detection of these abnormalities. Women starting at age 21 should be screened at regular intervals.
HPV vaccination is another important part of cervical cancer prevention. The vaccine is now available in a three part series for girls/women aged 9-45 and boys/men aged 9-26. It prevents 9 of the most common subtypes of HPV, including those that cause genital warts and the most common strains that cause cervical cancer.
If you are due - or not sure if you are due - for a PAP smear, or if you are interested in HPV vaccination, contact your provider today to set up a well woman exam! It just might save your life!