Cervical Cancer trends

The incidence of cervical cancer continues to drop despite increasing STD rates. This is due to more sensitive screening tests including computer imaged liquid cytology and HPV DNA tests.  The HPV vaccine is expected to reduce cervical cancer rates even more in the years to come.  The HPV vaccine has reduced infection rates by 56% (in the teenagers 14-19 years of age) and is recommended for girls aged 11-12 or girls 13-26, if they were never vaccinated. The screening guidelines keep changing, but don’t be confused.  This disease is deadly but can be prevented if you get regular screening. The incidence of cervical cancer continues to drop despite increasing STD rates. This is due to more sensitive screening tests including computer imaged liquid cytology and HPV DNA tests. The HPV vaccine is expected to reduce cervical cancer rates even more in the years to come. The HPV vaccine has reduced infection rates by 56% (in the teenagers 14-19 years of age) and is recommended for girls aged 11-12 or girls 13-26, if they were never vaccinated. The screening guidelines keep changing, but don’t be confused. This disease is deadly but can be prevented if you get regular screening. The Pap test is recommended for all women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old. If you are 30 years old or older, you may choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test (co-testing). If you are older than 65 and have had normal Pap test results for several years, your doctor may tell you that you do not need to have a Pap test anymore. (Source: CDC fact sheet)

 

STDs are on the Increase

Here are some frightening facts.

-One in two sexually active persons will contact an STD/STI by age 25.

-Over 14 million people acquire HPV each year.

-By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired genital HPV infection.

-Each year, one in four teens contracts an STD.

The 4 most common STDs are: HPV, Chlamydia, Trichamoniasis, and Gonorrhea (source: American Sexual Health Association)

 

Don’t be tricked by a Lack of Symptoms

Trichomonas vaginalis (or “trich”) is a parasite that affects both men and women and is considered the most common curable STD. In the United States, an estimated 3.7 million people have the infection, but only about 30% ever develop any symptoms.  The parasite inhabits the vagina, penis or mouth and is transmitted during sex.  Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others. Symptoms can come and go and may include itching, burning after urination, or a thin discharge with an unusual smell. Having Trichamoniasis can make it feel unpleasant to have sex. Without treatment, the infection can last for months or even years. Trichamoniasis can increase the risk of getting or spreading other STDs like HIV or HPV, which causes cervical cancer. It is not possible to diagnose Trichamoniasis based on symptoms alone. For both men and women, the most sensitive laboratory test is the RNA (not DNA) test offered by Hologic. The best news is that Trich can be cured with a single dose of oral antibiotic medication. (Source: CDC fact sheet)        .

Did You Know?

The only cancer for which the Pap test screens is cervical cancer. It does not screen for ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar cancers. So even if you have a Pap test regularly, if you notice any signs or symptoms that are unusual for you, see a doctor to find out why you’re having them. (Source: FDA & College of American Pathologists)

 

Richard Lozano, MD

Cytopathologist at Pathology & Cytology

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