PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Preventing and maybe someday even wiping out a cancer that strikes women now seems possible. Cervical cancer is known to be one of the most preventable cancers, mainly with HPV vaccine and it can also be found with routine screenings.
Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer in women. A new study says that a substantial increase in both screening and HPV vaccinations could prevent up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer worldwide within 50 years.
It’s recommended that women start getting Pap smears in their early 20s.
“They may start seeing these pre-cancer changes. So this is critical that that’s when we identify this and treat it,” said Dr. Robert DeBernardo. “Because if we treat these pre-cancers, then, OK, we’re not going to develop cancer.”
Cervical cancer is mainly transmitted sexually by the human papillomavirus. It’s also become the leading cause of throat cancer in men.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls starting at 9 years old. It can be given up to the age of 45.
Doctors say the vaccine is the best way to prevent cervical cancer, but research says HPV vaccination rates are lower than they should be.
“This is a disturbing trend,” said DeBernardo. “So, again, empower yourself, get the vaccination series. It makes total sense and trust me, you can ask any of my patients who have had significant cervical dysplasia, or even cancer, they would treat that in a heartbeat.”
Researchers say a significant increase in both cervical screenings and HPV vaccinations worldwide could potentially eliminate cervical cancer in 82 percent of the world’s countries by the year 2100.
On the flip side, the research says that if prevention isn’t expanded, cervical cancer rates could grow along with deaths, especially in less developed countries.
Doctors say it’s really important for everyone who’s eligible to get the HPV vaccine.