January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month!

Cervical Cancer: Basics of Prevention and Detection

Cervical Cancer: Basics of Prevention and Detection

Every year in the U.S., nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with and 4,100 women die from cervical cancer. Many of the main risk factors are out of your control, but a number of smart lifestyle choices reduces your risk for developing the disease. Early detection and prompt intervention is usually the most critical factor for successful treatment.

Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

  • Only females are affected (the cervix is part of the uterus)
  • Being infected by HPV (human papilloma virus)
  • Being 20 to 50 years of age
  • Being infected with chlamydia
  • Being infected with HIV or AIDS
  • Being overweight
  • A family history of cervical cancer (especially affecting close relatives)
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Long-term use of oral contraceptives (“the pill”)
  • Having at least 3 full-term pregnancies

How to Lower Your Risk of Cervical Cancer

  • Get vaccinated against HPV
  • Exercise for at least 30-45 minutes most days of the week
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Quit smoking—or never start
  • Practice safe sex with condoms to help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) associated with increased risk of cervical cancer
  • Consider alternatives to oral birth control for prolonged use

Encouraging Early Detection of Cervical Cancer

  • Cervical cancer and pre-cancer are found with Pap tests; the American Cancer Society recommends that women 21 to 29 get one every 3 years, and that women age 30 to 65 either get one every 3 years or get one plus an HPV screening every 5 years
  • Ask your doctor about increased screenings if you have a suppressed immune system
  • Most women over 65, or who have undergone a total hysterectomy, don’t need screenings; if this applies to you, ask your doctor

Cancer Resource Directory

If you or a loved one has cancer, visit our resource directory for help accessing treatment, care, or survivorship support.

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NWFCCC works to reduce the burden of cancer on area residents by increasing access to cancer information and services, by developing and implementing cancer control projects for the public and healthcare professionals, and by promoting awareness of prevention and early detection practices.

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