Preventing cervical cancer is in many cases entirely possible. Most cervical cancer, after all, stems from a sexually transmitted infection called human papilloma virus, or HPV. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent the acquisition of HPV, as well as ways to treat cervical anomalies before they develop into cervical cancer.
- Pap tests: Cervical cancer screening, including regular Pap smears, can detect cellular irregularities before they develop into cancer. These tests are recommended for all women, either within three years of beginning sexual activity or at age 21. If your Pap smear shows any potential problems, it is imperative to follow-up with your health care provider.
- HPV vaccination: The FDA has approved Gardasil, a vaccine for HPV, for women between the ages of nine and 26. This vaccine can prevent up to 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.
- Dietary and lifestyle factors: Diet and exercise are important in preventing cervical cancer. In particular, women should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Weight control, sufficient physical activity and reduced alcohol consumption may also reduce a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer.
- Other factors: Smoking cessation, practicing safe sex and reducing your number of sexual partners may also decrease your risk of cervical cancer.