HPV & Cervical Cancer

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HPV & Cervical Cancer - What Every Woman Should Know I was eighteen years old when I had my first abnormal pap smear. I received a call from my OB/GYN's office and was informed that I had the Human Papilloma Virus show up on my pap smear. This was the first pap smear I had ever had, and I was terrified. The news got worse. I researched this virus and learned that it was actually a sexually transmitted disease that could either cause cervical cancer, or genital warts! I didn’t understand, I had been with my boyfriend for five years and he was my first partner. How could I have contracted a sexually transmitted disease? I had a biopsy done to test my cervix for cancer. The results were normal, and I was told I would need to have a pap smear done every three months. I followed the doctor’s orders, and within six months had a normal pap smear. At that point, I was nineteen years old. Things resolved and my annual pap smears were normal. That was up until a year ago. Once again, I had an abnormal pap smear. This time however, I was 30. The same procedure was followed, another biopsy of the cervix. This showed no invasive cancer. Three months later I had yet another abnormal reading. This time the results were worse. I was puzzled, and I didn’t understand why after eleven years my problem came back. After researching the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cervical cancer, I finally found the answers to my questions. The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves indicates that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer of all women, and the most common cancer in younger women. Women between the ages of 35-55 are the highest group diagnosed. This type of cancer has been linked to the HPV virus. Other risk factors of cervical cancer include the younger your age of your first sexual experience, and the number of sexual partners one has. (634). Cervical cancer can be prevented and treated early by finding pre-cancerous cell changes within the cervix. These cell changes can be found during routine pap smear exams. A pap smear is an exam where a medical instrument called a speculum is inserted into the vagina. The provider then collects cells from the cervix by gently swabbing i... ... middle of paper ... ...; I am angry at myself for not being more careful when I was younger. Although I was not promiscuous, and I did participate in safe sex with my first boyfriend - I learned the hard way that it only takes one time of unprotected sex to contract HPV. Now, eleven years later I am paying the price for my carelessness. It is my hope that women will learn the seriousness of HPV before they become infected and suffer the consequences for a lifetime. Bibliography American Cancer Society. “What Causes Cancer of the Cervix?” 22 Aug 05. http://www.cancer.org Beers, Mark H. MD., Berkow, Robert MD., and Bogin, Robert M. MD. eds. The Merck Manual of Medical Information. New York: Pocket Books, 1997. Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, The. Our Bodies, Ourselves - A New Edition for a New Era. New York: Touchstone, 2005. United States. Center for Disease Control. STD Facts - Human Papilloma Virus HPV). Washington: 2005. 22 Aug 05. http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm
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