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HPV & Cervical Cancer: What You Need to Know

Most cervical cancer is caused by various types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which spreads through sexual contact. When exposed to HPV, the immune system usually prevents the virus from doing harm, but sometimes the virus survives for years and causes cells on the surface of the cervix to become cancerous. It can be successfully treated if found early. But there is a vaccine that could almost completely eradicate cervical cancer.  We asked Dr. Warner Huh, UAB Medicine Director of Gynecologic Oncology, to tell us more:

 

Things to remember:

  • Contracting HPV is one of the most important risk factors for developing cervical cancer.
  • HPV is extraordinarily common.
  • There are women in this country who will get cervical cancer because they did not get the HPV vaccine.
  • The optimal age to recieve the vaccine is 11-12 years old but women can get vaccinated up to 26 years of age.
  • Women should start recieving cervical cancer screenings at 21 years of age and continue every 3-5 years.