What Parents Should Know About HPV, The Vaccine, And Cancer of the Cervix
This article is really all about protecting our daughters from HPV and cervical cancer. Although cervical cancer is not completely preventable. there are things we can do to dramatically reduce its occurrence and save our daughters’ lives by preventing the spread of HPV.
Each year about 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Of those women, about 4,000 will die from cervical cancer. You can protect your daughter from cancer of the cervix and HPV (the virus linked to cervical cancer) by getting her vaccinated long before she needs it.
HPV is the human papilloma virus. It is a very common virus that is spread through sexual contact. Just about everyone who has had sex will have the HPV virus at some time in their life. The HPV vaccine prevents the virus.
HPV has several variations. Usually HPV will go away and causes no health problems at all. However, sometimes HPV will not go away and is causes changes to a woman’s cervix, which is the opening to her uterus. A Pap test can detect cervix changes. If left undetected, it can lead to cervical cancer. Sometimes HPV causes genital warts around the vagina, penis or anus.
People get HPV from skin to skin contact during sexual intercourse. It is usually spread by contact with the vagina, penis or anus. Most cancers of the cervix are caused by two types of HPV.
There is an FDA approved vaccine to protect against the spread of HPV. This virus protects against the two most common types of HPV which lead to most cervical cancers. There are other types of HPV, but the vaccine targets the two biggest HPV variations.
Who Should Be Vaccinated?
All girls ages 11 to 12 should get the HPV vaccine, as recommended by the American Cancer Society. It is a series of three shots spread out over a one year period. Girls as young as 9 years old can be given the vaccine. Girls ages 13 to 18 should get the HPV vaccine if they haven’t already. Also, women from 19 to 26 should at the very least discuss the option of getting the HPV vaccine with their doctor.
Why Do Girls So Young Need This Vaccine?
It is important to complete the entire HPV vaccine series before young women reach the age of sexual maturity. Most parents don’t like to talk about our young girls reaching the age of sexual activity and we certainly don’t like thinking about it when they are so young. However, it is better to be safe now and start the vaccine when they are young – before they can begin sexual activity. Doing so can protect our daughters from getting the main two types of HPV which lead to most cervical cancers.
Pap tests are still recommended for all women – even girls who have received the HPV vaccine. Just because they’ve been vaccinated it does not protect against all forms of HPV – only the two most common forms of HPV that lead to most cervical cancers. Pap tests are a part of a normal cancer early detection program, and is recommended at least every 3 years
Protect Your Daughter’s Future
Get her vaccinated against HPV. Ensure that she gets regular Pap tests at least every three years. Teach her about all the ways she can stay safe and healthy and reduce risks as she grows up. Our daughters are precious to us. Do what you can to protect them by getting them vaccinated against HPV.
If you have questions about HPV and cervical cancer, talk with your family doctor or any OB/GYN doctor.