Despite the progress of medical science and considerable awareness, cancer is still an intriguing subject, marred with myths. And the same is applicable for cervical cancer too. Cervical cancer refers to the cancer of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus. On Cervical Health Awareness Month (January), let’s deep dive into some facts and myths about cervical cancer, so you have a better clarity about this health condition.
7 Common Myths About Cervical Cancer
Myth #1: I don’t need to get screened because no one in my family has cervical cancer.
Fact: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical cancer today. HPV is spread via skin contact during sexual intercourse with someone who already has the virus. HPV is common and in some men and women the cancer takes time to manifest its symptoms. Therefore, it is clear that your family not having a genetic history of this cancer does not imply that you too do not need to get checked for the presence of this virus.
Myth #2: I don’t need to get screened because I don’t have any symptoms.
Fact: What happens in a screening test? A screening test basically looks for abnormalities in healthy people who do not have any symptoms. So, when the actual purpose of screening is to examine your body, especially when you have a healthy body and zero symptoms, you do not need to have symptoms to get screened. You shouldn’t wait until you are experiencing symptoms to get a screening test.
Myth #3: I don’t want to get screened because cervical cancer can’t be treated.
Fact: Screening tests help prevent cervical cancer by detecting abnormal cells on the cervix, so they can be treated before they turn into cancer. Women who don’t get screened regularly miss the opportunity to detect abnormal cervical tissue early, when there is a considerable scope for the treatment to be effective.
Myth #4: Cervical cancer cannot be prevented.
Fact: A complete prevention depends on various factors. However, when it comes to cervical cancer, it is preventable with regular screening tests and vaccines that protect against various types of HPV, which is the root cause of most cervical cancers.
Myth #5: All women need an annual Pap test to screen for cervical cancer.
Fact: An annual screening is not recommended for women at an average risk of being susceptible to the virus. Ideally an annual check is not needed if you have no symptoms before the next screening. Women between the ages of 21 to 65 should be screened for cervical cancer every three years. It is recommended that you talk to your doctor before opting for screening tests.
Myth #6: Older women don’t need cervical cancer screenings.
Fact: As discussed previously, getting screened doesn’t require you to have any symptoms. The same can be said about your age. This is one of the most common cervical cancer facts that older women don’t need to get screened. However, you don’t need to opt for screening tests for cervical cancer if you’re over 65 and your results have always been normal. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider if you should still get tested.
Myth #7: Women who have received the HPV vaccine don’t need Pap tests.
Fact: The regular Pap tests are still necessary and important for women who have had the HPV vaccine. However, note that the HPV vaccine only protects you against some types of HPV, but not all of them.
5 Important Facts About Cervical Cancer That You Must Be Aware Of
1. People of all genders can get HPV.
Cervical cancer is very common, almost 9 out of 10 people have Human Papillomavirus (HPV), some of which may develop into cervical cancer. Most people are unaware of the existence of this virus, since they don’t always manifest themselves. In some cases, the symptoms may become apparent only later. Additionally, the HPV vaccine protects against 90% of genital warts in people of all genders.
2. HPV vaccine has been tested and proven to help prevent cervical abnormalities which can develop into cervical cancer.
Numerous trials with the HPV vaccine over the years have shown positive results. The vaccine is almost 100% effective in preventing abnormalities in cells in the cervix caused by cancer-causing HPV types 16 and 18.
3. You can be infected with HPV from one sexual partner, the first time you are sexually active.
HPV can be infected even if you are active sexually for the first time. Undoubtedly, condoms do offer some preventions but not a total protection from HPV. One of the reasons being they don’t cover all of the genital skin. They do offer protection from many other sexually transmitted infections though and also help prevent unwanted pregnancies.
4. The HPV vaccine is made from a single protein.
The vaccine is made from a single protein like the one the virus has on its outer coat. When you have the vaccine, your body makes antibodies which it uses to fight the virus, if you’re ever exposed to it.
5. The HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer from developing.
There is a recent study that has confirmed that there is a significant decrease in the risk of developing invasive cervical cancer, if you’ve taken the HPV vaccination.
3 Preventive Tips For Cervical Cancer
- Get screened even if you do not have any symptoms.
- It is important for all women to get the HPV vaccine before the age of 26, after consulting a doctor.
- Consult a doctor or healthcare support, if you experience any symptoms, before trying any remedy on your own.
It is important to get your facts right about cervical cancer and be aware of the common myths. The above facts and myth-busters will help you with just that. So, keep these in mind and you may be able to keep cervical cancer at bay.
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