Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Because the Pap test, the number of cases of cervical cancer has declined over the last twenty years. However, many women still develop cervical cancer. In fact, more than 9,000 women in the United States develop cervical cancer each year.
Although some cases of cervical cancer can be prevented, there are some things that women can do to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
How to reduce your risk of cervical cancer
1. Skip Pap tests regularly. Pap tests may be the greatest defense of cervical cancer. Pap smears can detect early cervical changes before they turn into cancer. Check for cervical cancer screening guidelines for how often you should do the Pap test, or check with your doctor.
2. Limit the number of sexual partners you have. Research has shown that women who have sexual partners increases the risk of cervical cancer. They also increase the risk of developing HPV, known to cause cervical cancer.
3. Stop smoking or avoid second hand smoke. Smoking increases the risk of developing cancer, including cervical cancer. Smoking combined with HPV infection can actually accelerate cervical dysplasia. Your best bet is to stop smoking.
4. If you are sexually active, use condoms. Having sex without a condom puts you at risk for HIV and other STDs can increase the risk factor for developing cervical cancer.
5. Follow-up of abnormal pap. If you have an abnormal Pap smear, it is important to follow up with regular pap smear or colposcopy, whatever your doctor has decided for you. If you have been treated for cervical dysplasia, you still need to follow up with a pap smear or colposcopy. Dysplasia can return and when detected, can turn into cervical cancer.
6. Get the vaccine against HPV. If you are under 27, you may be entitled to receive the vaccine against HPV, which prevents high-risk strains of HPV in women. Vaccines against HPV, Gardasil was approved by the FDA to give young girls as young as 9. The vaccine is most effective when given to young women before they become sexually active.