Watch CBS News

On Call with Dr. Kumar: Understanding HPV and how to lower your risk of cervical cancer

On Call with Dr. Kumar: Lowering the risk of cervical cancer
On Call with Dr. Kumar: Lowering the risk of cervical cancer 03:56

NEW YORK -- Every two minutes, a woman dies of cervical cancer, according to

That's more than 300,000 deaths per year, and more than 90% of those deaths are in low and middle income countries. 

However, with expanded screening, treatment and vaccination, experts believe cervical cancer can be completely eliminated.

Just last week, global health donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and UNICEF, pledged $600 million toward eradicating cervical cancer.

Dr. Nidhi Kumar is On Call for CBS New York to explain who is at greatest risk. 

"According to the American Cancer Society, over 13,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year, and 4,000 of those women will die," said Dr. Kumar. "Cervical cancer is often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s, but it can also affect older women in their 60s and 70s. So it's so important to keep up with those regular gynecologic exams."

She talked about the connection between cervical cancer and HPV, and why it's important to get vaccinated.

"Ninety-nine percent of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States -- eight out of every 10 women have been exposed to it. But for the overwhelming majority of women, they are asymptomatic and they clear the infection on their own," she said. "But there is a small percentage of women that will continue to have inflammation in the cervix, which leads to pre-cancerous cells, and then cervical cancer.

"The HPV vaccine triggers your body to recognize the infection and mount an immune response if exposed to HPV. It is safe, there are minimal side effects and it reduces your risk of cervical cancer anywhere from 97 to 100 percent," she continued. "But here's the key: You want to get vaccinated before you become sexually active."

She also shared the following advice to further minimize your risk:

  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid multiple sexual partners
  • Treat Chlamydia infections
  • Support immune system
  • Get regular pap smears

Watch Dr. Kumar's full interview above for more information. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.