Preventing Cervical Cancer: Gynecologic Oncologist Explains Why Pap Tests Are Important

How a Vaccine Can Minimize Your Risk of Cervical Cancer

Author: Jasmine Brown

“The majority of cervical cancer cases that I see are of women who have not had Pap tests routinely."

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We have come a long way in preventing cervical cancer and catching it early. According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer deaths among women. Though that death rate has dropped with increasing screening options, the rate has not changed in the last decade.

A woman’s chances of preventing cervical cancer starts with her routine screening examination. Robert Morris, MD, gynecologic oncologist at Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint, continues to encourage women to receive routine gynecologic evaluations regularly, such as Pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) tests.

“The majority of cervical cancer cases that I see are of women who have not had Pap tests routinely,” explained Dr. Morris. “Conversely, I also have patients who have prevented a diagnosis of cancer because they did go for their routine Pap test. Their physician was able to find the precancerous lesions and the necessary measures were taken.”

Another measure of prevention against cervical cancer is the HPV vaccine. This vaccine is available to children and young adult women and men. It protects from HPV infections that could lead to cervical cancer later in life.

“The HPV vaccine is one of the rare vaccines that minimizes the risk of cervical cancer in the history of medicine,” confirmed Dr. Morris. “The data from various countries that have utilized it regularly have shown a significant decrease in the incidence of cervical precancer and cancerous lesions.”

Cervical cancer can be detected early. This disease typically develops in women between the ages of 30 and 50, but this cancer is not exclusive to that age group.

Dr. Morris urges women to be proactive in their health and see a gynecologist routinely beginning at age 21. Speak to your physician to find out which test is right for you. Patients younger than 21 should discuss with their doctor when they should start preventative screenings. Furthermore, Dr. Morris suggests that patients should inquire about the HPV vaccine with their primary care provider or gynecologist.

To learn more about cervical cancer prevention and early detection, visit