ISSUE: Summer 2012
DEPT: Beauty Kit
- The lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer for Asian women is more than double the lifetime risk in non-Hispanic white women?
- Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV?
- At least 80 percent of sexually active females will acquire genital HPV by the age 50?
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, usually causes no symptoms, so a person can have the virus for many years before it is found or causes health problems. That means a man or woman can pass on HPV without realizing it. So what can you do? There are two ways women can screen for HPV and cervical cancer, which is the easiest female cancer to prevent:
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) helps find pre-cancers, or cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The HPV test checks for the virus (there are 40 different types) that can cause these cell changes on the cervix. It may be used to screen for cervical cancer, along with the Pap test, in women 30 and older.
The bad news is there is no HPV test for men, and the virus is spread by sexual skin- to-skin contact — it does not require penetration or an exchange of bodily fluids, like some STDs. So while a condom reduces the risk significantly, it does not eliminate it. The only sure way to prevent it is not to have sexual contact or get vaccinated by your mid-20s.