Cervical cancer is a preventable disease that claims the lives of thousands of American women each year.
The single known cause of cervical cancer is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact. Women can reduce their risk of cervical cancer by practicing good sexual health, and can even be vaccinated against HPV as further protection.
You May Be at Higher Risk If:
- You have a history of sexually-transmitted diseases.
- You smoke.
- You have multiple sex partners.
- You practice unprotected sex.
- You have sexual intercourse at an early age.
- The cervical cancer death rate is about 50% higher among African-American women compared to white women (5.4 per 100,000 in 2013, compared to 3.9 per 100,000).
HPV: The Virus that Causes Most Cervical Cancer
HPV – human papillomavirus – is a very common sexually-transmitted infection. HPV infection also causes most cases (75%) of cervical cancer in women, as well as other cancers in women and men. You can get excellent protection against cervical cancer by being vaccinated against HPV. Vaccination is most effective in the early teens, before becoming sexually active.
Preventing Cervical Cancer
You can lower your risk of developing cervical cancer by following good health guidelines:
- Don't smoke.
- Always use a condom during sex.
- Delay the start of sexual activity until you are older.
- Have fewer sexual partners.
- Be screened regularly for cervical cancer.
- Be vaccinated against HPV, the virus that causes most cervical cancer.
Early Detection and Testing
Cervical cancer develops slowly and without obvious symptoms. A yearly Pap test is essential for all women in order to detect the disease early enough for effective treatment. Your doctor may also test you for HPV.
If you cannot afford regular Pap tests, you may be eligible for free or low-cost tests through selected clinics. Contact our Breast & Cervical Cancer program at 601-576-7466 or 1-866-458-4948.