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Please visit the CDC Vaccine Safety site for more information on the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine

How do you protect yourself from Cervical Cancer and other HPV Diseases?

Cervical cancer could happen to you.

Cervical cancer may not be something you’re thinking about at this point in your life. But it should be. It’s caused by certain types of a common virus called Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. You are especially at risk for HPV during your teens and 20s—but you can get HPV at any point in your lifetime. And since cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide after breast cancer, it’s something we should all be thinking about now.

Know the link between HPV, cervical cancer, and genital warts.

Know about Cervical CancerThere are certain types of HPV that you should really know about. They cause the most cases of HPV-related diseases in women. For most people, the body’s own defense system will clear the virus, but when it doesn’t, certain diseases can develop. There’s no way to know whether your body will or won’t clear the virus.

Some types can cause cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer.

When a female becomes infected with certain types of HPV and the virus doesn’t go away on its own, abnormal cells can develop. If not found early and treated, these abnormal cells can become precancers, and then cancer.

Other types can cause genital warts.

Genital warts are usually flesh-colored growths. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are different from the types that can cause cancer.

  • Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects the womb and the vagina.
  • It is estimated that 8 out of 10 women will get HPV in their lifetime,* and there’s no way to tell which of those women will develop cervical cancer.
  • 3 out of 4 HPV infections occur in women ages 15 to 24.*
  • Even if you already have HPV, you could still be at risk for other types of the virus.

You could be at risk for HPV now.

HPV can affect anyone—both women and men. If you’re having any kind of intimate genital contact, you may be at risk. You don’t have to have intercourse to get HPV. HPV often has no signs or symptoms. That means many people don’t know they have the virus, so it can be easily passed on. Younger women may be at additional risk since their bodies are still developing, but you can get HPV at any point in your lifetime.

Now’s the time to help protect yourself.

If you are getting regular Pap tests, you’re already taking the first step toward helping to protect yourself against cervical cancer. Pap tests look for cells in the lining of the cervix that are not normal and could become precancers or cancer.

But you can do more to protect your future. In addition to Pap tests, vaccination is an essential part of helping to protect yourself against the following diseases caused by HPV Types 6, 11, 16, and 18:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Genital warts
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer

If you’re already sexually active, you may still benefit from HPV vaccination. That’s because even if you’ve been exposed to HPV, it’s unlikely that you have been exposed to all of the HPV types that cause the most cases of cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases.

Do something now to help protect your future.

No one wants to look into the future and see cervical cancer. Now you may not have to. By getting vaccinated, you’re doing everything you can to help protect your future from cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases.

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