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How Can I Protect Myself From Cervical Cancer?

By EmpowHER January 11, 2012 - 10:43am

The threat of cervical cancer has many mothers researching HPV vaccine information for their daughters. HPV, the human papillomavirus, is the primary cause of cervical cancer.

HPV vaccines are for girls and young women ages 9-26 to help protect against the two types of HPV that are most commonly associated with cervical cancer. These vaccines are a powerful tool to help protect today’s girls -- tomorrow’s generation of women – from cervical cancer. But what about cervical cancer protection for moms today?

What tools are out there for women today who may be at risk? While you’re exploring the HPV vaccine for your daughter, be sure to learn about what you, as a mom can do to protect yourself against cervical cancer:

  • The Pap test – The Pap test looks at a sample of cells taken from a woman's cervix for any cell changes or abnormalities. Pap testing should begin at age 21.
  • The HPV test – The HPV test, conducted from the same sample as the Pap, identifies women with high-risk HPV infections that can cause cervical cancer. When used with a Pap in women 30 and older, the HPV test increases the ability to identify who is at risk of developing cervical cancer.
    • If you are age 30 or older, ask your doctor for the digene HPV Test together with your Pap test.
    • If both tests come back normal, then the tests don’t need to be repeated for three years. But remember to return each year for your annual health exam.
    • If one or both tests come back abnormal, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. It simply enables your healthcare provider to monitor you more closely or treat pre-cancerous cells before cervical cancer develops. See this chart to help understand what your test results mean.
    • HPV testing isn’t necessary for women younger than 30, because HPV infections in young women usually go away on their own without causing problems.

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