Take vital steps to help prevent cervical cancer
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and it is also a month where many people try to quit smoking. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection that spreads through skin-to-skin contact and is the cause of nearly all cervical cancers.
Women can protect themselves from HPV and cervical cancer with the HPV vaccine. The vaccine can prevent infection with cancer-causing HPV types. Cervical cancer can also be prevented with regular screening tests (Pap tests) and follow-up care.
Among women with an abnormal pap, smoking cessation is considered an important part of their treatment. Tobacco use has been linked with persistent HPV infection. According to the American Cancer Society, women who smoke are about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer, since smoking makes the immune system less effective in fighting HPV infections.
Talking to your health care provider about additional risk factors such as smoking is key!
Lisa Franclemont, R.N.
Coordinator, Cancer Services
Program of Genesee and Orleans