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Cancer - cervix
A vaccine to prevent cervical cancer is now available. In June 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine called Gardasil, which prevents infection against the two types of HPV responsible for most cervical cancer cases.
Studies have shown that the vaccine appears to prevent early-stage cervical cancer and precancerous lesions. Gardasil is the first approved vaccine targeted specifically to prevent any type of cancer.
Practicing safe sex (using condoms) also reduces your risk of HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases. HPV infection causes genital warts. These may be barely visible or several inches wide. If a woman sees warts on her partner's genitals, she should avoid intercourse with that person.
To further reduce the risk of cervical cancer, women should limit their number of sexual partners and avoid partners who participate in high-risk sexual activities.
Getting regular Pap smears can help detect precancerous changes, which can be treated before they turn into cervical cancer. Pap smears effectively spot such changes, but they must be done regularly. Annual pelvic examinations, including a pap smear, should start when a woman becomes sexually active, or by the age of 20 in a nonsexually active woman.
See also: Physical exam frequency
If you smoke, quit. Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Kahn JA. HPV vaccination for the prevention of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. N Engl J Med. 2009 Jul 16;361(3):271-8.
Noller KL. Intraepithelial neoplasia of the lower genital tract (cervix, vulva): Etiology, screening, diagnostic techniques, management. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 28.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Cervical Cancer Screening. v.1.2011.
Smith RA, Cokkinides V, Brooks D, Saslow D, Brawley OW. Cancer screening in the United States, 2010: a review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and issues in cancer screening. CA Cancer J Clin. 2010;60:99-119.
NCCN Clinical Practical Guidelines in Oncology: Cervical cancer. V.1.2010. National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. Available at
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