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Cervical Cancer Month: 5 Things you should know

How do I minimize risk?

In Canada, a vaccine, Gardasil, is now available to protect against HPV. The vaccine must be received before infection occurs to be effective, so preferably before becoming sexually active. Limiting the number of sexual partners and avoiding unprotected sex cuts risk.

Quitting smoking is also a good idea. It is very important for women to get regular pap screening tests. Health Canada reports that most women who develop cervical cancer have not been screened within three years prior to being diagnosed.

How is it treated?

If precancerous cells are detected or cervical cancer is diagnosed, the doctor will choose a treatment based on a number of factors. Abnormal cells may be destroyed by cryosurgery [freezing] or laser surgery. Other surgical options include removing lesions with loop electrosurgical excision or hysterectomy. Radiation and chemotherapy are other treatments used by doctors to treat cervical cancer. The death rate from this type of cancer has dropped 50% since the introduction of the pap test.

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