February 20, 2019
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Ami Vaidya, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cancer Care, Women's Health.
Pick up the phone and make that call. Are you a woman who takes pride in being proactive about her health? Then, it’s time to make an appointment to get screened for cervical cancer.
February is Cancer Prevention Month, and what better time to talk about the most preventable type of cancer there is: Cervical cancer. Why is cervical cancer the most preventable cancer, you may ask? While other types of cancer can have a range of reasons why they’ve developed in a person’s body, when it comes to cervical cancer, almost all cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Ami Vaidya, M.D., co-chief for the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, says, “According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 90 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV. This fact alone allows us to do more targeted and effective screening for this type of cancer. Screenings are primarily done through Pap smears, which as of recent years, can test for HPV in addition to monitoring for cancerous and precancerous cells in the cervix.”
Cervical Cancer is Preventable, Yet Still Prevalent
Despite that there are proven ways to prevent cervical cancer, including being proactive about getting screened, there are still new cases of cervical cancer each year in the U.S. And, not finding the cancer early enough can be very detrimental to a person’s health.
“While there are many conditions that can affect a woman’s cervix, high grade cervical dysplasia (a precursor to cervical cancer) and cervical cancer are the most serious,” explains Dr. Vaidya. “In fact, cervical cancer can be life-threatening, which makes it all the more important to get screened in order to catch this type of cancer in its early stages, when it can be most easily treated.”
Screenings: Get Them & Get Them Often
“In recent years there have been advances made in screening for cervical cancer,” Dr. Vaidya explains. “With the advent of co-testing, a pap smear can now tell us if a patient has abnormal cells and high risk HPV subtypes.”
If you’re wondering how often you should get screened, here are some simple guidelines, as set by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force:
- Screening is not recommended for women under the age of 21
- Women 21-29 should consider getting a Pap smear (without HPV testing) every three years
- Women 31-65 should consider getting a Pap smear (with HPV testing) every five years
- No additional screening is recommended for women over 65, as long as they’ve had adequate prior screenings and are not at high risk for cervical cancer
“Remember, however that every person is different, and risk factors vary from individual to individual,” says Dr. Vaidya. “That said, keep an open dialog with your gynecologist who will be able to help you determine a screening schedule that is right for you. If you’re an adult woman who hasn’t seen your gynecologist in many years, give their office a call today.”
Dr. Vaidya specializes in gynecological oncology and practices in Hackensack, NJ. To make an appointment with Dr. Vaidya, call 551-996-5855 or find a provider near you. To learn more online about Hackensack Meridian Health’s cancer care services, visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org/learnmore.
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.