Published on January 16, 2019

Silver Cross Recognizes Cervical Health Awareness Month with Free Lecture about HPV and Cervical Cancer

Are you at risk for cervical cancer? Every year in the U.S., more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over 4,000 women die from it.

nita lee, md

Cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types and is transmitted through skin- to-skin sexual contact. There are hundreds of HPV types, but certain types are associated with risk of cancers of cervix, vulva, vagina, anal canal and throat/head and neck cancers. The body usually fights off the HPV infection, but in some individuals, it can last longer and cause genital warts, abnormal pap smears and cancer.

Early Detection of Cervical Cancer

“The good news is women can lower their risk of cervical cancer with prevention and early detection,” explains Nita Lee, M.D., gynecologic oncologist on staff at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. “Since HPV doesn’t always cause symptoms, regular screening tests starting at age 21 are important and can help prevent your chances of developing cervical cancer. HPV infection causing pre-cancer or cancer can present with irregular bleeding or discharge and should be investigated by your doctor.”

A critical tool for early detection is the Pap test. The test, which screens for cell changes on the cervix, collects a sample of cells from the woman’s cervix during a routine pelvic exam. Another component of screening is testing for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). This test can be done at the same time you have your Pap test and is usually performed on women who are over 30 years old.

HPV Vaccine – Prevention

The HPV vaccine (approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) protects the uninfected female or male from getting nine strains of high-risk HPV. It can reduce or eliminate cancers associated with HPV and is recommended for pre-teen girls and boys. The vaccine’s benefits go beyond the prevention of cervical cancer; HPV infections are linked to many other cancers in both men and women including head/neck (oropharynx cancers), anal/rectal cancers, vulvar/vaginal cancers and penile cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended for pre-teen girls and boys aged 11 to 12 years, but it may be given beginning at 9 years old through 26 years old.

“We now have a vaccine that can aid in cancer prevention, but there are still barriers to getting vaccinated: lack of education to parents and providers, lack of bundling the HPV vaccine with other needed childhood vaccines, and myths that the vaccine promotes early sexual activity,” Dr. Lee added. “Fortunately, physicians are collaborating across disciplines of oncology, gynecology, surgery and adult and pediatric primary care to promote HPV vaccination and raise awareness about HPV-related cancers.”

Free Lecture about HPV and Cervical Cancer at Silver Cross

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Join Dr. Lee, Paulette Apostolou, cancer survivor and advocate, and MaryEllyn Witt, RN, for a discussion about human papillomavirus (HPV), its link to cervical and other cancers, along with the latest treatment options. HPV 101: Understanding Human Papillomavirus, Cervical Cancer and Beyond will be presented at the Silver Cross Conference Center, Pavilion A, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox, on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. To register visit, www.midwestroboticsurgery.org , click on the “About” tab and select the Classes and Events link or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.