Take control of your cervical health

Fight cervical cancer with these preventive care tips.

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, but it’s important to know how to reduce your risk. Here’s what you should know to help take control of your cervical health and prevent cervical cancer.

Know the risk factors

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, which is a common sexually transmitted virus. HPV may go away on its own, cause genital or skin warts, or cause changes on a woman’s cervix that may lead to cervical cancer.

Other factors that can increase your risk of developing cervical cancer include:

  • Having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight illnesses or other health problems
  • Smoking tobacco

Reduce your risk

The CDC recommends two screening tests that can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancerous cells on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated properly. Women should get Pap tests starting at age 21, and should continue getting them until they are 65 years old. It’s recommended that women with normal Pap test results receive a test every three to five years. With regular testing, it’s easier to catch abnormal or precancerous cells in their early stages when they’re simpler to treat.

  • The HPV (human papillomavirus) test looks for the virus that can cause cell changes.

In most cases, there are no symptoms of cervical cancer. Regular cervical cancer screenings are important for early diagnosis. Talk with your primary care physician about scheduling your next well-woman exam today, and download our free preventive care checklist for women 18 years and older.

Get vaccinated

The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. It’s recommended for people ages 9 through 45, and is covered under your preventive care benefits as a Sharp Health Plan member.

Don’t miss important information on other National Health Observances

The key to staying healthy is prevention. That’s why we promote National Health Observances every month to help spread awareness and keep our members healthy. Learn more tips to reduce your risk of colon cancer and lower your risk of heart disease.

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