Cervical cancer is the only cancer known to be exclusively caused by a common virus, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Nearly 4,000 women in America die of cervical cancer every year. An estimated 11,000 new cases will be diagnosed in the United States during 2010.
Recent research indicates that certain high-risk strains of HPV also cause some cases of cancers of the mouth, head and neck in men and women. Other than persons practicing lifelong abstinence, most women, and men, acquire an HPV infection during their lifetimes. Fortunately, most HPV infections are benign and disappear spontaneously. Some, however, do not go away and if persistent for many years, and even decades, may cause cancers.
Early detection of these precancers can be effectively treated before they become cancer. Regular gynecological pap tests detect most cell changes due to HPV long before they progress to cervical cancer. New guidelines continue to recommend regular screening. Cervical cytology screening is recommended for women every two years beginning at age 21.
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition(NCCC), founded in 1996, is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to serving women with, or at risk for, cervical cancer and HPV diseaseCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun