Preventing cervical cancer starts here

Cervical screening can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early. Please don’t delay scheduling your cervical screening appointment.

Human papillomavirus - or HPV - is the known cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer, making it one of the most preventable cancers today.

Thanks to vaccination, cervical screening and treatment options, no woman should die from cervical cancer.

Yet in countries where HPV vaccination and screening measures are in place, women continue to be diagnosed with this preventable disease.

Some women may not be aware of the importance of attending regular cervical cancer screenings. Busy lives may lead to postponed appointments for others.

Making matters worse, not all women have access to screening. About 90 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in countries where women do not have access to the necessary care to protect their health. As a result, one woman dies from cervical cancer every two minutes1 - our sisters, mothers, daughters, co-workers and friends.

The good news is that with the latest science and technologies, cervical disease can be found and stopped. The goal is to identify women at risk, before invasive cancer ever develops. Let’s spread the word about the importance of cervical screening and the role that HPV plays in cervical cancer.

Learn more about this preventable disease, and schedule your cervical screening today. These are the moments that matter.

Schedule your cervical cancer screening appointment today
What is cervical cancer? Why should a woman care?

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide. It starts in the cervix, located at the lower part of the uterus. Persistent infection of certain high-risk types of the HPV virus are known to increase the risk of cervical disease. Cervical disease, if left unchecked can progress over time to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.2

Talking to friends and those you love about HPV and cervical cancer screening can be - let’s be honest - a bit uncomfortable. Here are some conversation starters - what’s yours?
  • I really care about you. When was your last wellness appointment with your gynaecologist?

  • Did you know there are tests that can catch changes in your body before they become cancer? Your doctor can let you know what tests are right for you.

  • My cervical cancer screening is coming up soon. Have you scheduled yours yet?

  • Regular cancer screening is really important. Is there anything I can do to help you get screened, like find information, schedule an appointment, help with the kids or drive you to the clinic?

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is sexually transmitted and infects most men and women at some point in their lives. Although not everyone who tests positive for a high-risk HPV infection will go on to develop cervical cancer, if the virus is persistent and not managed by a woman's immune system, over time the infection could cause cellular changes that may lead to cancer. This process can take many years, or even a decade, so managing a woman's wellness over time is important.

In some healthcare practices, a visual Inspection (VIA) or Pap cytology (sometimes referred to as a smear test) is used to screen a woman for cervical cancer. However, what was best for generations of women has evolved due to the evolution of molecular-based tests which directly detect the presence of the virus. More is known about the science behind HPV and its role in cervical cancer prevention. While the sample collection is the same for both HPV and Pap screening, the information they reveal is different, and informs next step decisions in patient care.

Many countries have moved or are moving towards screening programs where HPV is the first, primary test, to better identify who is at risk for disease. Ask if your provider offers HPV testing as part of your cervical screening program. Learn more.

Do you ever wonder why there is a perceived stigma about HPV or even the diagnosis of cervical cancer? It's a good question, because HPV is so very common and healthy sexual activity and partner relationships will likely (unknowingly) involve sharing the virus. Most of the time there are no symptoms or problems, and it can be transmitted through sexual touch, with or without actual intercourse, and with or without condom use.

There is no reason to point blame or feel shame in testing positive for HPV, or in a cervical cancer diagnosis. To help combat the myths surrounding HPV, it helps to talk about it openly.

What else do I need to know?

Yes! However, please check with the facility offering your screenings to ensure you know what is required ahead of time, if they have safety precautions in place. Your healthcare provider should be able to inform you whether it is safe to resume regular screening, and it’s best to schedule your tests as soon as you can. Don’t wait!

It’s okay to be concerned about medical procedures, possible findings, affording tests or even seeing a doctor. But knowing the current state of your health can make it easier to take care of any issues and can potentially lengthen or save your life.

Everyone perceives pain differently so it's quite possible that your experience may differ from others. The good news is that most women report only minor discomfort during cervical sample collection for a Pap test or an HPV DNA test.

While HPV DNA is detected in over 99% of cervical cancers, many women test positive for HPV, and do not develop cervical disease. However, since we do not know whose body will clear the virus, and who will go on to develop invasive cancer, further testing and follow-up is important. Two of the highest risk types - HPV 16 and HPV 18 - account for close to 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer. If you test positive for one of these, you may be asked to come back more immediately for follow-up.

If no high-risk HPV infection is detected, you can be reassured that you are at very low risk to develop cervical pre-cancer or cancer in the next 3-5 years. It is likely that no follow-up is needed until your next recommended round of screening.

Yes, you still need to be screened for cervical cancer even if you have been vaccinated against HPV. The vaccine provides protection from the most high-risk types of HPV known to cause cancer, however, it does not protect you from all types of the virus that can potentially cause cancer. For this reason, it’s important to go for routine cervical cancer screening tests to ensure you catch any potential disease early and reduce the chance it will cause cancer in the future.

Guidelines may vary from country to country, based on a patient’s age or test options, or if you have symptoms. Please check with your healthcare provider to learn more about what might be recommended for you.

Yes, even women in monogamous relationships or with the same long-term partner need to be tested for HPV.

Yes. Screening tests are used to find cancer before a person shows signs of disease, or evidence of an infection. So it’s important to get regular screenings even if you are feeling fine.

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References

  1. Arbyn M, Weiderpass E, Bruni L, Sanjosé S de, Saraiya M, Ferlay J, et al. Estimates of incidence and mortality of cervical cancer in 2018: a worldwide analysis. Lancet Global Heal. 2019;8(2):e191–203.

  2. https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/cervical-cancer-public-health-concern/en/

  3. www.who.int/health-topics/cervical-cancer

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