Protecting Against HPV
Recently, you may have heard about the HPV vaccine which acts as a powerful tool to help protect young women from cervical cancer. If not, let me tell you a little about the vaccines. HPV vaccines are for girls and young women, ages 9-26 to help protect women against the two types of HPV that are most commonly associated with cervical cancer. As mothers, we must protect not only our daughters, but also ourselves from this disease. Did you know that cervical cancer is the most common cancer affecting women worldwide? However, it is also easily preventable because we know what causes it – HPV. HPV stands for human papillomavirus.
There are two types of tests available to help us women protect ourselves against cervical cancer. The first test is the Pap Test. The Pap Test looks at a sample of cells taken from a woman’s cervix to look for any cell changes or abnormalities. Pap testing should begin at age 21. The second test if the HPV Test. The HPV Test is conducted from the same sample as the Pap and identifies women with high-risk HPV infections that can cause cervical cancer.
What is the benefit of having an HPV Test? HPV testing can identify if you have one of the “high-risk” infections on your cervix that can cause cervical cancer. For women 30 and older, the HPV test can be performed at the same time as the Pap test to help doctors identify which women are at greater risk. However, not all doctors automatically use both tests. Research of cervical cancer prevention should not stop and start with our daughters. This is why it is essential that women act as their own health advocates.
Tips for taking the HPV Test:
– If you are age 30 or older, ask your doctor for the digene HPV test together with your Pap test.
– If both tests come back normal, then neither needs to be repeated for 3 years. But remember to return each year for your annual health exam.
– If one or both tests come back abnormal, this doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer. It simply enables your healthcare provider to monitor you more closely or treat pre-cancerous cells before cervical cancer develops.
– HPV testing isn’t necessary for women younger than 30 years old because HPV infections in women under 30 usually go away on their own without causing a problem. Women under 30 will only have HPV testing if the Pap testing is inconclusive.
I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of the QIAGEN digeneHPV test. Mom Central also sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.