Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in woman worldwide. Therefore, Cervical Health Awareness Month serves as an opportunity to educate people how to prevent and protect themselves from human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexual transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer.
Over 20 million people of all ages and genders worldwide are currently living with HPV and another 6.2 million will contract the virus this year. Many people do not even know they are infected because there are little to no symptoms associated with HPV.
Those who smoke are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer than a non-smoker because it weakens the immune system making it harder to fight the HPV infection. Other factors that increase risk are being overweight, using long-term oral contraceptives, or having a family history.
Luckily, cervical cancer is treatable and curable if detected early. To help detect abnormal cells, it’s important for both men and women to get screened yearly and get the HPV vaccination if possible. Routine pap tests for women are also important in detecting abnormal changes early.
Take the time this month of promote the importance of HPV and cervical care prevention.