It’s hard to educate about and discuss cervical cancer without mentioning the Human Papillomavirus. Since the 1990s, research has found a direct link between HPV and Cervical Cancer. But if you are unfamiliar with what the Human Papillomavirus is, it could cause some confusion and anxiety which may not be necessary. Read on to find out more.
What is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?
The Human Papillomavirus is a group of about 150-200 viruses that can cause warts and cell changes throughout the body. It is very common. For many people that contract the virus, their body will fight and get rid of it without any signs or symptoms. You may never know you had the virus. Of these 150-200, around 40 of the Human Papillomaviruses are sexually transmitted. And of these 40, 13 have been found to cause changes to cells, and it’s these changes could turn into cancer.
Cervical Cancer and the Human Papillomavirus
In nearly all cases of cervical cancer, the person has HPV. But don’t panic. If you are found to have HPV, it does not mean you will develop cervical cancer. However, you may have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer if you are found to have one of the 13 HPV strains that cause cellular changes,
What can be done if I have HPV?
The good news is since doctors have found the link between the virus and cancer, they’ve been able to develop tests to identify whether a person has HPV and which strain they have. The Pap Smear and Cervical Cancer test can identify small cell changes in the cervix before it develops into cancer. For some people, the body will get rid of the virus and no treatment is required; but this is not always the case. If changes are detected, your doctor will tell you the best course of action.
What is the HPV vaccine and can I get one?
The HPV vaccine was developed to immunise people against strains of HPV associated with cervical cancer. It has now been developed to cover more strains and also help prevent genital warts and other cancers related to HPV. Depending what country you live will affect whether you can have the HPV vaccine. Typically it is recommended for girls and young females aged between 12-26.