January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, a time to bring awareness and education to this preventable and serious cancer that affects thousands of women yearly including more than 600,000 women worldwide in 2020.
Cervical cancer is mainly caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). This is a common virus that is passed from person to person through sexual contact. HPV typically does not cause any symptoms, so you won’t know if you have the virus or are giving it to others.
Prevention can start as early as 11 years of age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV vaccinations are recommended for children ages 11 to 12 years old and for anyone through the age of 26 if they have not been previously vaccinated. In addition to the HPV vaccine, a regular Pap test is used to screen for pre-cancerous cells of the cervix that could become cancerous. Thankfully, through screenings, cervical cancer can be caught early, allowing for more effective treatment and management of the disease.
As with any health screening, discuss with your health care provider as to determine the best method of screening that is right for you.