Women should contact their health care provider to schedule a physical exam and Pap test and/or HPV test. These 2 screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early enough to treat it successfully.
The Pap test or (Pap smear) looks for precancerous lesions that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated. The HPV test looks for the human papilloma virus that can cause cell changes that can lead to cancer. For women ages 40 and over and who are low income or do not have health insurance, may qualify for free or low-cost screening tests through the New York State Cancer Services Program at 1-866-442-CANCER (2262).
The HPV vaccine is recommended for children as young as 9 years old and up to age 26 years. Preteen boys and girls age 11 to 12 usually are given the vaccine series, but in the event someone has not had the vaccine, it is available for males and females up to age 26 years. Some adults ages 27-45 may speak with their doctors about getting the vaccine to reduce their risk for HPV infections.
The reasoning behind vaccinating younger children is they are less likely to have been exposed to HPV infections. If HPV vaccinations occur before age 15, a 2-dose schedule is recommended 6-12 months apart. If the HPV series is begun after age 15, then 3 shots are recommended. The vaccine prevents new HPV infections, but does not treat existing infections.
Other recommendations for helping to prevent cervical cancer and lowering risk of infection include:
-Using condoms during sex
-Limiting the number of sexual partners
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