Cervical cancer is a cancer that develops in the tissues of a woman's cervix (the organ that connects your uterus and vagina). According to the National Cancer Institute, cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer that doesn't always show symptoms but is almost always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
The most common ways to prevent cervical cancer is by getting regular pap smears and a tests for HPV. In most cases, when these two tests are preformed, cervical cancer can be caught early and treated.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as eight million adult women from the ages of 21-65, who should be screened for cervical cancer, haven't had a checkup in the past five years.
Why is this?
When researchers were looking back on their findings, it crossed their minds that maybe these women didn't have insurance or access to a doctor. But, this was not the case. Seven out of 10 women had insurance and a primary care doctor.
Other possibilities could be lack of education, access to the screenings (maybe these women's doctors aren't offering the screenings), and cultural differences. Another reason could be the controversy surrounding the HPV shot. Even though it is highly recommended for both girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 13, many parents fear that this will encourage sexual behavior. It's important to know that the HPV shot needs to be given prior to sexual behavior in order to be effective.
What else do you need to know about cervical cancer prevention and why it's important to get screened?
Epidemiologist and team lead in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control's (DCPC) Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch, Vickie Benard, PhD, discusses the results from a national survey regarding women's check-ups and why getting screened for cervical cancer is so essential to a woman's health.