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Two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) can protect girls and young women against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. The vaccines work best when given before a person's first sexual contact, when she could be exposed to HPV. Both vaccines are recommended for 11 and 12 year-old girls. But the vaccines also can be used in girls as young as 9 and in women through age 26 who did not get any or all of the shots when they were younger. These vaccines are given in a series of three shots. It is best to use the same vaccine brand for all three doses. Ask your doctor which brand vaccine is best for you. The vaccine does not replace the need to wear condoms to lower your risk of getting other types of HPV and other sexually transmitted infections. Women who have had the HPV vaccine still need to have regular Pap tests.
- More information on cervical cancer in English
- Más recursos en español (Additional resources in Spanish)
Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the tissues of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (where a baby grows). Cervical cancer is caused by several types of a virus called human papillomavirus (pap-uh-LOH-muh-veye-ruhss), or HPV. HPV is very common. It spreads through sexual contact. Most women's bodies are able to fight off infection with HPV. But in some women, HPV can cause normal cells in the cervix to turn into cancer. This usually happens over a period of time. Cancer that goes untreated starts to grow and spread more deeply into the cervix and to nearby areas.
The good news is that cervical cancer is the easiest female cancer to prevent. By getting regular Pap tests, your doctor can find and treat abnormal cells before they turn into cancer.
Women should have their first Pap test at age 21. After your first Pap test, you should have a Pap test every two to three years depending on your age and other factors. Ask your doctor about how often you need a Pap test. Women who have had the HPV vaccine still need to have Pap tests.
Latinas have the highest rates of cervical cancer of all groups of women. Latinas also are more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-Hispanic whites. Lack of screening is an important factor behind this disparity. In fact, 6 in 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years.
The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program program provides free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screening to women who don't have health insurance. To learn more about this program, please contact the CDC at 800-CDC-INFO (232-4636).
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Cervical Cancer Fact Sheet — This fact sheet answers the common questions patients have regarding cervical cancer.
Explore other publications and websites
Cancer Health Disparities — This on-line fact sheet gives a brief overview of the currently available data on cancer health disparities among racial and ethnic groups. It also summarizes some NCI research projects and initiatives designed to understand and eventually eliminate these disparities.
Cervical Cancer (PDQ®) Treatment — Patients — This publication provides information on cervical cancer that is geared towards patients. It includes a definition of cervical cancer, explanations of the different stages of cervical cancer, treatment options, and where to go for more information.
Cervical Cancer Risk Questionnaire (Copyright © Siteman Cancer Center) — This questionnaire can help you estimate your risk of cervical cancer and learn about ways to decrease that risk. It takes only a few minutes to answer these quick questions about your health, background, and lifestyle.
Cervical Cancer Screening (PDQ®) — Patients — This page-by-page explanation of cervical cancer screening provides information about the risk factors for cervical cancer and the effectiveness of common screening methods. It also includes links for information about prevention and treatment.
Detailed Guide: Cervical Cancer (Copyright © American Cancer Society) — This detailed guide provides information about cervical cancer. It covers information about the causes, risk factors, prevention, and where to seek financial assistance.
HPV Vaccine Information For Young Women — This fact sheet answers commonly asked questions about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is given to young women to prevent the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.
Inside Knowledge Campaign: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer — This site is designed to spread awareness to women about the different types of gynecological cancers. With early detection, treatments for gynecological cancers are very effective.
Pap Tests and Cervical Health: A Healthy Habit for You — This booklet describes what a pap smear is and how it is done. It also provides answers to other commonly asked questions about Pap tests.
Understanding HPV (Copyrights © Cleveland Foundation) — This fact sheet provides information on the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the human Papillomavirus (HPV). It also gives information on cervical cancer.
What You Need To Know About Cancer of the Cervix — This booklet on cervical cancer discusses possible causes, symptoms, treatments, and related emotional issues, and provides questions to ask your doctor. It also includes a glossary of terms and links to other resources.
Connect with other organizations
American Cancer Society
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, CDC
National Cervical Cancer Coalition
Lea más sobre womenshealth.gov
Citología vaginal hoja de datos — Esta hoja de datos presenta información acerca de la prueba "Pap," qué es, con qué frecuencia la debe realizar, y qué significarían los resultados. También explica los factores de riesgo relacionados con cáncer del cuello del útero (cérvix).
Explore otras publicaciones y sitios de Internet
Cáncer del cuello uterino (PDQ ®): Tratamiento — Esta publicación da información general acerca del cáncer del cuello uterino, sus signos, las pruebas que examinan el cuello uterino, los factores de riesgo, y factores que afectan al prognóstico.
Infección genital por VPH — La infección genital por VPH es una enfermedad de transmisión sexual (ETS), causada por el virus del papiloma humano (VPH). La mayoría de las personas que quedan infectadas por VPH no presentarán síntomas y la infección desaparecerá por sí sola.
Lo que usted necesita saber sobre el cáncer de cérvix — Este folleto del Instituto Nacional del Cáncer (NCI) le ofrece información importante acerca del cáncer del cuello del útero y sobre algunas condiciones que pueden llevar a esta enfermedad. Tiene información sobre la prevención, síntomas, diagnóstico y tratamiento.
La prueba de Papanicolaou: preguntas y respuestas — Este folleto fácil de leer ofrece información breve y clara sobre quienes necesitan una prueba de Papanicolaou, dónde concurrir y la frecuencia con que debe realizarse.
Tinción de papanicolau: ¿Qué es y qué significan los resultados? (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) — Este folleto contiene información sobre los resultados del papanicolau. Explica en detalle que significa tener un papanicolau anormal.
Conéctese con otras organizaciones
Cancer.gov en Español
Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades, HHS
Sociedad Americana del Cáncer
Content last updated May 18, 2010.
Resources last updated May 18, 2010.
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