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Next Steps continued...
"Other questions being discussed relate to whether boys should be vaccinated, and whether young women who have been exposed to HPV, and women in their 20s and 30s who also have likely been exposed, can get any benefit from vaccination," she continues.
Obviously, males don't get cervical cancer, since the cervix is part of the female reproductive system. But men can spread the HPV virus to women through sex.
"Most important will be to ensure that women who are most at risk for cervical cancer (women who do not get routine screening) receive any vaccine that is approved and recommended," Saslow continues.
Pap Test Here to Stay
Flowers lists these steps women can take right now:
- Get Pap tests on a regular basis (every year).
- If the Pap test has abnormal results, follow up and get treatment, if needed.
- Use condoms and limit sexual partners, which may help. But only abstinence is 100% effective against sexually transmitted disease.
- Don't smoke.
Women should "continue on with screening until it's felt by their physician that screening is no longer necessary, based on their profile," says Flowers.
A lot of women don't do that.
"In the U.S., at least 80% of adult women get Pap tests; this is a very effective way to prevent cervical cancer and deaths from cervical cancer," states Saslow.
"We also know that most women in the U.S. who do get cervical cancer have either never had a Pap test, or have not had one in five years or more. Most but not all cervical cancer can be prevented or detected early enough to prevent lives lost," Saslow continues.