Doctors say screenings, vaccine key to preventing cervical cancer
January 23, 2019 09:24 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - It was once a leading killer of women. But now, with screening and vaccinations, doctors say cervical cancer is keeping more women alive in the United States.
“So now we're seeing about 13,000 cases of cervical cancer annually in the United States and about 4,000 deaths each year,” Dr. Sara Jordan, a gynecological oncologist at Presbyterian Healthcare Services, said.
While many cancers remain mysteries, new research has allowed doctors to determine what's causing this deadly disease.
“Cervical cancer is one of the only cancers that we know the agent that causes it,” Jordan said.
Jordan said that human papillomavirus, or HPV, is transmitted through skin to skin contact and responsible for 99.7 percent of all cervical cancers. She said 54 percent of college-age women test positive for HPV, as well as 80 percent of all women by the time they are 50. But not all strains are considered dangerous.
“And so the HPV test is really looking to see does somebody have a high-risk strain of HPV or that can lead to pre-cancer or cancer of the cervix,” Jordan said.
Since cervical cancer is often called "the hidden disease," causing no real symptoms until it advances, Jordan said it's important to talk to your doctor about appropriate screenings. She also said for men and women ages 9 to 26 to get vaccinated.
“It is 97 percent effective. It is incredibly safe. It is one of the best vaccines that's we have,” Dr. Jordan said.
With vaccines, Jordan hopes to one day eradicate this disease, just like polio.
Updated: January 23, 2019 09:24 AM
Created: January 23, 2019 09:18 AM
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