HPV & Cervical Cancer: What You Should Know

Hi friends - this is an informative article on the HPV-cervical cancer connection.  Read this please, and if you have any concerns concerning protection, please come see me in the office or email me privately.  I got you. -- Dr. Dale


When a woman's Pap smear—a test for detecting precancerous or cancerous cervical cells—is abnormal, and she is diagnosed with human papilloma virus (HPV), she may feel pretty worried. After all, each year, American women develop more than 20,000 HPV-related cancers. Cervical cancer is the most common, but HPV is also associated with other cancers such as vulva, vaginal, penile, anal and throat cancer.

While a HPV diagnosis is troubling—and certainly nothing to take lightly—in most cases, there is no need to panic. The HPV virus appears to be able to "clear" on its own in young, healthy women, so a woman who receives an abnormal Pap one year may have a normal one the following year. “At least 80 percent of young women will be HPV positive at some point,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and author of A Woman's Guide to Sexual Health. In other words, most instances of the virus won't progress to full-blown cancer.

Still, no one can assume her body will clear the virus—particularly women ages 30 and older. Additionally, while most types of HPV resolve spontaneously, certain strains of the virus are more likely to persist and cause precancerous cell changes that can lead to cervical lesions. So the more you know about HPV and how to avoid it, the safer you’ll be. Below are ways to guard yourself against this ubiquitous sexually transmitted infection.

Get vaccinated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two HPV vaccines. Gardasil protects against four strains of the virus (out of more than 100), says Minkin: “The high-risk ‘baddies’ are strains 16 and 18, which account for about 70 percent of cervical cancers.  Strains 6 and 11 are responsible for yucky warts. That’s why Gardasil protects against those four.”

The other vaccine, Cervarix, protects against HPV 16 and 18 but not HPV-related warts. Both are given in three injections over six months.

“All kids—girls and boys—need to be immunized,” says Minkin. Both vaccines are approved for ages 9-25. It’s best to get the vaccine before becoming sexually active. Some insurance plans cover the vaccines, as does Medicaid, and both manufacturers also offer help for those who can’t afford them (about $130 per dose).

The vaccines are not approved for people over age 26 because studies have not shown them to be effective in older people, but women 26+ can protect themselves by getting regular screenings for HPV, following up on abnormal results, having limited sexual partners (one, preferably), and making sure any sexual partner is infection-free.

Read more: http://www.eveningtribune.com/article/20140121/NEWS/301219922/2153/LIFESTYLE#ixzz2rTxtcmUH Read more: http://www.eveningtribune.com/article/20140121/NEWS/301219922/2153/LIFESTYLE#ixzz2rTwioMAK