Cervical Cancer Prevention

Cervical Cancer Prevention

Cancer of the cervix is common but preventable. Each year, there are an estimated 12,000 new cases in the United States, and about 4,000 women die from this disease.

The most common cause is infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). There are two main groups of HPV: low-risk types that can cause genital warts or high-risk types that can cause cancers.  HPV is transmitted by sexual contact, and as many as three out of four people who have had sex will get a genital HPV infection some time during their lives.  Most women who develop HPV infections clear the infection and will never have symptoms.

Fortunately, cervical cancer is preventable.  There is an effective vaccine against HPV infection that significantly decreases the chance of genital warts and cancer.  The ideal age to receive the vaccine is around 11 or 12 years, but it can be given as early as age 9 and through age 45.

Another effective way to prevent cervical cancer is by having regular cervical cancer screening.  This screening may include a Pap test, HPV test, or both.  The Pap test is designed to find abnormal cells on the cervix, and HPV testing can find high-risk HPV types before there are changes to the cells. If abnormal precancerous cells are found, they can frequently remove them long before cancer develops.

Talk to your gynecologist about HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screenings. For appointments, call Marshall Obstetrics & Gynecology at 304-691-1400.


David Jude, MD

Dr. Jude is a board-certified OB/GYN and professor and chair of the department of obstetrics & gynecology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.