Did you know there are steps you can take to reduce or prevent your odds of getting cervical cancer? Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable gynecological cancers and you can get started as soon as today! No single step is a guarantee; the best way to protect yourself is to do everything you can. Here are five things to do now:
- Partner with your doctor. The best way to prevent any type of disease is to make regular visits to your doctor for annual exams, screenings, and well visits. They can alert you as to when you’re due for an important test or screening and help to catch early signs of disease. If you have UPMC Health Plan insurance, you can even earn Take a Healthy Step deductible credit dollars for this type of visit!
- Get regular screenings. Depending on your age, there are different screening recommendations for your Pap test. Ask your doctor what is appropriate for you. There is also a HPV test available for women 30 years old and older that can be done at the same time as your Pap test. You can earn Take a Healthy Step deductible credit dollars for recommended preventive exams like this one.
- Don’t smoke, or quit today. Women who smoke are two times more likely to develop cervical cancer compared to nonsmokers. According to The American Cancer Society, tobacco byproducts are believed to damage the DNA of the cervix cells, contributing to the development of cancer. Smoking also can also leave the immune system vulnerable to HPV infections if exposed.
- Practice abstinence, monogamy, or use protection. The best way to prevent a sexually transmitted infection (like HPV) is to refrain from all forms of sexual activity. If you choose to be sexually active, having sex with just one partner can reduce your risk. So can using protection, such as condoms.
- Get vaccinated. If you are 26 years old or younger (boys and girls), there are vaccinations that are licensed, safe, and effective in protecting against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. Talk to your doctor about options for you or your child.
Don’t wait — tell the important women in your life to take action and lower their risk for cervical cancer. All it takes is a phone call to schedule an exam with your doctor. If you are looking to quit smoking, give our expert health coaches a call today at 1-800-807-0571!