Cervical Cancer and HPV in Fort Collins, CO
The Connection Between Cervical Cancer and HPV
HPV and cervical cancer are both widespread conditions in women across the United States. We hear a lot about HPV, but we don’t hear as much about its connection to various types of cancers. At The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado, we’re committed to educating our community about women’s health issues, including HPV and cervical cancer. Our team strives to spread awareness with high-quality information and compassionate patient care. Learn more about the link between HPV and cervical cancer and how you can reduce your risk.
Are Cervical Cancer and HPV Interchangeable Terms?
While cervical cancer and HPV are related, they are not interchangeable. Cervical cancer occurs when mutated cells in the cervix accumulate and develop into a tumor. Human papillomavirus (HPV), on the other hand, is a sexually transmitted virus that can be low risk or high risk. Most sexually active people will be infected with HPV at some point, but only about half are high-risk cases that may lead to cancer.
How HPV Is Related to Cervical Cancer
Although HPV isn’t a cancer by itself, it certainly can lead to conditions such as cervical cancer. Patients with a high-risk HPV infection can develop cell mutations that cause cancerous tumors. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can lead to vaginal cancers and vulvar cancers. If you’re concerned about a potential HPV infection or cervical cancer symptoms, be sure to schedule a Pap smear with your local women’s health care provider.
Are There Symptoms of HPV?
Most patients with HPV report no visible symptoms. Because an HPV infection isn’t obvious, it’s even more important to check in with your healthcare provider and get tested for the condition. However, some patients do notice genital warts in the weeks, months, or years after first being infected.
Know the Signs of Cervical Cancer
HPV may not have many clear symptoms, but the resulting cancers do. When HPV develops into cervical cancer, patients may begin to notice symptoms of varying severity. Some patients only experience heavier periods, while others might report unexplained pain in the pelvic region. If you’re having any of these symptoms of cervical cancer, get in touch with our compassionate team:
- Watery or bloody vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse or vaginal bleeding after intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause
- Heavier-than-usual menstrual bleeding.
Protect Yourself With a Screening
No one wants to get abnormal Pap smear results back and have to worry about developing cancer. While it’s impossible to guarantee that you won’t get cancer, there are several precautions you can take to minimize your risk and protect yourself against an HPV infection. At The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado, we recommend women schedule the following:
- Pap Smear: Pap smears are recommended for patients 21 years of age and older. This test looks for abnormalities in and around the cervix and is a great way to catch precancerous changes early. Cervical cancer treatment is easier when caught in the early stages.
- HPV Testing: If you’re sexually active, HPV testing is highly recommended. HPV causes up to 90% of cervical cancer cases, and it’s crucial to know whether you’re infected and the steps you can take to optimize your health.
- HPV Vaccination: The best way to protect yourself against an HPV infection is with a vaccine. The CDC suggests receiving the HPV vaccine to prevent the infection and resulting cancers and diseases. This vaccine is most effective in preteens, but if you have not had the HPV vaccine we encourage you to speak with your provider about whether you can benefit from vaccination at a later age. Keep in mind that the HPV vaccine does not treat an existing infection.
Get in Touch With Us Today
Regular HPV and cervical cancer screenings are always a good idea. If it’s been a few years since your last check-up, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado. We serve the communities of Loveland and Fort Collins, CO, and we’re glad to take new patients. Let us know your concerns and if you’ve noticed any symptoms, and we’ll recommend a course of action. Contact our friendly team today.