Cancer research shows a 65% decrease in cervical cancers

Cervical Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Photo courtesy of Summit Pacific Medical Center

Cervical Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Makenna Flores, Managing Editor

New research has shown a 65% decrease in cervical cancers over the last 30 years, according to president and scientific director for University Hospitals’ Seidman Cancer Center, Dr. Theodoros Teknos. 

“It shows that prevention, early detection, and new treatments that we’ve been talking about as the holy grail for cancer cures [are] coming true,” said Teknos to WTOL 11. 

The news comes during cervical health awareness month, observed in January. Health providers emphasize information and resources about cervical cancer during the month. 

The World Health Organization said cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer amongst women. According to the CDC, about 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the United States and 4,000 deaths occur as a result. 

However, Teknos, who focuses his studies on HPV-related cancers, told WTOL 11 the HPV vaccine is to thank for the decrease. 

HPV, or human papillomavirus infection, is the most common sexually transmitted infection. When not treated correctly, it can cause cells to turn abnormal and potentially become cancerous. The Population Reference Bureau reported 75% of American adults have been exposed to HPV. HPV 16 and HPV 18 are known to be responsible for most cervical cancer diagnoses, however. 

The vaccine, which is available to girls and boys as young as 11, protects against six different types of cancer. The HPV vaccine can not only protect against cervical cancer, but head, neck and anal cancers as well. 

Though the vaccine is a good preventative, it is also helpful to get screenings. According to 13 abc, Mercy Health and the Ohio Department of Health Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP) are partnering to bring women access to affordable screenings. 

Mercy Health said the partnership will not only bring awareness to risk factors, symptoms, screenings and resources, but also assist in paying for pap tests. A pap test is used to find cancerous or abnormal cells within a woman’s cervix. It is recommended that women 21 and over get pap tests every three to five years. People under the age of 21 and are sexually active are also encouraged to get pap tests as soon as possible, as their chances of getting HPV rise. 

It is also encouraged to be aware of family health history, as cervical cancer can be genetic in about 1% of cases, according to Healthline. 

The CDC said the best way to protect against cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV and receive regular screenings.