Dr. Soliman discusses ways to prevent the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, and explains if middle-aged women can contract HPV.
The HPV virus can be prevented with vaccination that was recently FDA approved in 2006.
It’s a series of three injections that are currently recommended for young girls, ages 9 to 13 and women up to age 26.
If the HPV vaccine is given before any sexual exposure, it can almost prevent HPV in 100 percent of cases. So that’s probably the best way to prevent HPV.
As far as preventing cervical cancer, if you haven’t been given the HPV vaccine and have already had sexual exposure, then it’s important to see your gynecologist for your yearly exams.
Get screening PAP smears and most lesions can be picked up in the precancerous state and if treated at that time a lot of women can catch the disease before it turns into a cervical cancer.
In the clinic I often see women who are middle-aged and they ask, am I still at risk for getting the sexually transmitted disease or being exposed to HPV?
And essentially any woman who is sexually active, whether they are in their teens, in their later years are always at risk for exposure to HPV.
The reason we focus on younger generations when we are talking about the HPV vaccine is the ideal time to give the vaccine is before any sexual exposure.
So we think that those young girls or young adults would benefit from the vaccine the most.
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Pamela T. Soliman, M.D., M.P.H., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Division of Surgery, at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Soliman earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and she earned her master of public health from The University of Texas Health Science Center Houston.
Visit Dr. Soliman at MD Anderson Cancer Center