Beachwood, Ohio – January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. To maximize prevention of cervical cancer, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that women 21 years of age and older see their gynecologist for an annual pap test. At age 30, it is recommended that the annual checkup include testing for genital human papillomavirus (HPV).
“Every woman should be aware that high-risk subtypes of HPV are the leading cause of cervical cancer worldwide,” says Sandhia Varyani, MD, FACOG, board certified OB-GYN at University Hospitals (UH) Ahuja Medical Center. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all sexually active men and women, even monogamous partners, get HPV at some point in their lives. In most cases HPV regresses before it causes health problems, and most people with HPV do not even know they have it. However, there are many types of HPV and many can cause serious illness, including cervical cancer.
“The most important preventive step regarding cervical cancer is for both men and women to be vaccinated against HPV and have your children vaccinated before they become sexually active,” says Dr. Varyani. “Two vaccines are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for females aged 9 to 26 and one is approved for the same age group in males. Most pediatricians begin vaccinating their patients around ages 12 to 14.” The vaccines are effective for all ages and both genders, but the FDA-approved age range is covered by most insurance plans.
Once a person has HPV, it does not go away. “Smoking and immune system deficiency can cause it to progress faster, but a healthy lifestyle and smoking cessation can help HPV regress,” says Dr. Varyani. “For patients with HPV, the goal is to work with their physician to follow the virus closely until it becomes inactive.”For complete information about human papillomavirus, cervical cancer and Cervical Health Awareness Month, visit www.cdc.gov and www.nccc-online.org. UH Ahuja Medical Center offers a complete range of advanced OB-GYN services from wellness screenings to robotic hysterectomies. To arrange an appointment with a UH Ahuja Medical Center gynecologist, visit www.uhahuja.org and click "Services," or call 216-593-5500.