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Cervical Cancer Awareness
January 31, 2014

Eyewitness News Reporter Darrah Wilcox Having HPV, human papolomas virus, is certainly the most common risk factor for cervical cancer.

Other risk factors include smoking, using birth control for five or more years or having several sexual partners.

Women ages 21-65 should get regular pap tests, which can find precancerous cells before it turns into cancer.

Dr. Gerard Oakley at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center said the thought of getting a pap smear is often unpleasant.

"It's kind of one of those things that if they can avoid doing it, they'll do it," Oakley said.

But the test, which takes just seconds to perform, can save your life. While doctors used to advise women to have a pap smear every year, experts have recently switched gears.

"We understand now that the transition from normal cervical cells takes a very long time," Oakley said.

While you should check with your doctor, most recommend every two to three years if results were normal on your last test.

"So we have multiple opportunities to check for any precancerous cells that might be there and take care of them," Oakley said.

An HPV vaccine is available for pre-teenage girls., and girls through 26 years old who did not get the shots when they were younger. They will still need to have regular pap tests starting at age 21.


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