Preventing Cervical Cancer with Regular Screening and the HPV Vaccine

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cervical cancer is one of the more common cancers in the United States. But with regular Pap and HPV tests, it can be prevented or found in early stages. “Cervical cancer usually takes several years to develop,” said Shari Cook, a nurse practitioner at Missouri Ozarks Community Health. “And so, if you’re staying on top of your regular screenings, it is a very preventable cancer.”

Women should begin getting Pap tests at age 21 until age 65, unless they have had an abnormal result. Dr. Robert Nielsen, an OB/GYN at Missouri Ozarks, says HPV tests should also begin at around age 25. HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. “HPV is the cause of virtually all cervical cancers,” said Dr. Nielsen. “But there is a vaccine that can protect against infections, and the shot is very safe with over 135 million doses distributed in the U.S.”

HPV vaccines are recommended for preteens but can be administered to children as young as nine. The vaccine only prevents new infections and does not treat the existing illness. But if you were not vaccinated as a preteen, it may not be too late. “If you started before age 15 and you had two doses, then you are fully vaccinated,” said Cook. “If you only got one dose before 15 and now you’re 25, we would do a full course that would include a total of three vaccinations to have you fully vaccinated.”

To learn more about the HPV vaccine, or to schedule a Pap or HPV test, contact Missouri Ozarks Community Health to set up an appointment. You can reach the clinics at the numbers below:

  • Ava Clinic: (417) 683-5739
  • Gainesville Clinic: (417) 679-2775
  • Mansfield Clinic: (417) 924-8809
  • Cabool Clinic: (417) 962-5422
  • Mountain Grove Clinic: (417) 926-1713
  • Houston Clinic: (417) 967-0772
Files under: News and Events

Media Contact:

Lacy Monteleone

(417) 683-5739, ext. 1422

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