Created: January 10, 2020 01:24 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Cervical cancer is still the most deadly cancer worldwide for women, according to Dr. Carolyn Muller.
"It breaks my heart everyday when these women come in with cancers that are absolutely preventable," said Dr. Muller, who works at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Muller said the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) causes the cancer in the cervix. Since there are no early symptoms, a tumor can already begin growing before someone realizes the signs.
That's when these symptoms can happen:
Dr. Muller said surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or other therapies are an option to fight the cancer. But it shouldn't need to get to that point, since there are preventative measures.
She recommends pap smears every three years, which can catch an HPV infection early. HPV vaccines are available too.
"The vaccine is best in children ages 11 to 13, but you can vaccinate children as early as 9 and adults up to age 26. There's a window between 26 and 45, where you can have a conversation with your doctor, and you may benefit (from the vaccine)," she explained.
She said parents sometimes have misconceptions about vaccines. One of the big ones is about the HPV vaccines.
Dr. Muller explained since HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, some parents think their children will become sexually active sooner.
She said that's not true.
If a child gets their shots, Dr. Muller said they're nearly 100% protected.
"Prevention here is key," she said.
To learn more about UNM's Comprehensive Cancer Center, including their clinical trials, click here.
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