Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer

In 2009, 11,270 U.S. women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 4,070 women will die from this disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Yet, cervical cancer is nearly 100% preventable. We know it is caused by persistent infection with high-risk types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus. We have the tools we need to prevent cervical cancer. Now we need to make sure all women have the information they need to preserve their health and save their lives.

For screening, an HPV test, when used with a Pap test for women 30 and older, is nearly 100% effective in identifying women who need early intervention to stop the disease. Additionally, an FDA-approved HPV vaccine for girls and young women ages 9-26 is shown to be 100% effective at preventing the two types of HPV that account for about 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. There is significant public discussion going on now about the HPV vaccine, which provides us with a rare opportunity to expand the dialogue to include preventing cervical cancer through both vaccination and screening. To take advantage of this opportunity, the task force is focusing on public education and outreach on all of the available tools for preventing cervical cancer. What every woman should know:

  • Girls aged 11 and 12 should get the HPV vaccine, and other girls and women ages 9 through 26, or their parents if appropriate, should ask their clinician about getting the HPV vaccine.
  • All women should get regular Pap tests, beginning at age 21 or within 3 years of becoming sexually active, at a frequency recommended by their clinician.
  • Women age 30 and older should get an HPV test with their Pap test.

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