DENVER (CBS4) - January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, which means now is the perfect time to remind the women in your life to get their annual checkup. Something incredible about this cancer is that is it one of the few that can be entirely eliminated. That's possible through either the HPV, or human papillomavirus, vaccination, or through screening with pap smears and HPV testing.
"The HPV vaccine is eligible for girls and boys, starting as early as the age of nine years old, up until the age of 26," says Dr. Allison Staley from Rocky Mountain Gynecologic Oncology.
For some women, the vaccine came out too late. Dr. Staley says you can still receive the vaccine up to age 45.
"Especially if you have any risk of any new exposures to HPV, [or] any new sexual partners potentially."
Dr. Staley says maintaining testing with your women's health provider in order identify any precancerous cells is also incredibly important.
Women who do have cervical cancer are treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
"A very small minority or population really can be best treated or potentially cured with surgery. But those are going to be women who have very early stages of their cancer," says Dr. Staley.
Since this is a cancer that can be prevented, Dr. Staley urges families to get their young kids vaccinated.
"The HPV vaccine is not a mandatory series for [children's] vaccines for school. It's an opt-in vaccine you have to request. So if your pediatric provider is not talking with you about that, then you need to ask about it."
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