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Cervical Cancer Prevention

What Every Woman Needs to Know

Women should not have to die from cervical cancer.

Each year there are an estimated 604,000 new cases and 341,000 deaths from cervical cancer.1

With proper screening, vaccination and treatment, cervical cancer is highly preventable. 

There are over 150 types of HPV.2

14 types are known to cause most cases of cervical cancer.3

HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the highest risk types, accounting for more than 70% of all cervical cancer.4,5

Close to 80% of all sexually active adults will get HPV at some point in their lives.6

There’s no shame in having an HPV infection and it’s not a reflection on you, your partner, or your lifestyle.

HPV is a very common virus that’s transmitted by skin-to-skin contact.

Most HPV infections clear on their own and usually don’t show any symptoms.

However, a persistent infection with high-risk HPV can lead to pre-cancer or cancer. 

Testing for these types can tell you if you’re at risk before a problem develops.

SCREENING IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF PREVENTION

TODAY, THERE ARE TWO MAIN SCREENING TESTS FOR CERVICAL CANCER.

PAP

Used for nearly 80 years to look for abnormal changes in cells.

Your healthcare professional collects cells from your cervix and sends the sample to a laboratory, which looks for abnormal cells under a microscope.

The Pap test does not detect the presence of HPV and is subject to human error.

HPV TEST

Uses modern technology to detect DNA of high-risk HPV to identify a woman’s risk of pre-cancer or cancer. 

A sample is taken from the cervix the same way as a Pap test. Then, a highly accurate laboratory instrument tests for the DNA of high-risk HPV.

Looking for high-risk HPV can determine your risk of cervical cancer.

The tests can be performed together or one after another, depending on age and medical guidelines.

Women in monogamous relationships may feel that HPV screening is not necessary for them, but it is!

A woman may not even know she has a low level HPV infection for many years before it ever progresses and leads to health problems.

WHAT DOES A POSITIVE TEST RESULT MEAN?

(Pap) Abnormal cell changes were found on your cervix - these changes could be minor or more serious.

(HPV test) A positive HPV test result does not mean you already have or will develop cancer! 

It does mean that you have a high-risk infection and are at an increased risk of developing pre-cancer or cancer.

Depending upon your test results, your healthcare provider may want to take a closer look at your cervix using colposcopy.

Alternatively, they may suggest to repeat the test at a later time.

WHAT IS A COLPOSCOPY?

A colposcopy allows your healthcare provider to take a closer look at your cervix with a special instrument that magnifies the view, in order to look for abnormal areas. A sample of these areas may be taken for further evaluation - this is called a “biopsy.”

WHAT DOES A NEGATIVE SCREENING RESULT MEAN?

(Pap) Abnormal cells were not seen under a microscope.

Your screening test did not detect worrisome changes. 

Up to ⅓ of invasive cervical cancer occurred in women with normal Pap results.7,8

(HPV test) A high-risk HPV infection that could lead to cancer was not detected.

You are at a very low risk of having pre-cancer or cancer now, or developing it in the next 5 - 10 years. 

YOUR ROLE IN PREVENTION

Pap tests have been used for generations, but screening for HPV DNA offers better protection against cervical cancer.

Ask your healthcare provider to include an HPV DNA test at your next regular check-up.

Cervical cancer is preventable, and HPV DNA screening can tell you if you are at risk.

For more information about cervical cancer prevention, please visit www.cervicalcancer-risk.com

References:

  1. Cancer Today, International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) GLOBOCAN 2020 Registry: Chart (accessed 29April 2021)
  2. Doorbar, J et al, Rev Med Virol. 2015;25(1):2-23
  3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/human-papillomavirus-(hpv)-and-cervical-cancer (accessed 29April 2021)
  4. Li, N et al, Int J Cancer. 2011;128(4):927–35
  5. Sanjose, S de et al, Lancet Oncol. 2010;11(11):1048–56
  6. Chesson, HW et al, Sex Transm Dis. 2014;41(11):660–4
  7. Leyden, WA et al, J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005;97(9):675-683
  8. Andrae, B et al, J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100(9):622-629