Cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among women. Almost 14,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States. A major cause of cervical cancer is exposure the human papillomavirus [HPV] which is a sexually transmitted infection. There are two forms of cervical cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. The majority of cases are squamous cell carcinomas.
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Early stages of cervical cancer are often asymptomatic; therefore, screenings are essential to preventing further development of the cancer. In the later stages, symptoms include vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, or pain during intercourse.
Increasing your chance for exposure to HPV will put you at a higher risk for developing cervical cancer. For example, a high quantity of sexual partners, exposure to other sexually transmitted infections, and having sex at an early age will risk exposure to HPV. Other risk factors of cervical cancer include a deficient immune system and smoking tobacco.
Pap tests, HPV vaccination, and practicing safe sex are all ways to prevent cervical cancer. Participating in pap tests routinely will allow early detection. Receiving HPV vaccinations will prevent infection from HPV. Finally, practicing safe sex with condom usage will prevent HPV transmission, thus preventing cervical cancer.
Women should begin receiving pap tests by the age of twenty-one. It is recommended that women ages twenty-one to sixty-five receive a pap test every three years. The frequency of pap tests may vary, so women should check with their doctor for their recommendation.