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Men Can Help Prevent Cervical Cancer in Women

By Jan Risden, MD, Medical Director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois

If there was a shot that could prevent cancer, there's a strong likelihood you'd get it, right? Well, the HPV vaccine protects you from certain strains of the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease. HPV can lead to cancer of the cervix in women, as well as other areas in men and women.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls and can protect against cancers that can result from persistent HPV infection. If you or your child didn’t start the HPV vaccine series (three shots) at age 11 or 12, you or your child should be vaccinated before turning 27 (for females) and before age 22 (for males). Young men between 22 and 26, who have not gotten the shots, should talk to their doctor about getting vaccinated.

In Illinois, cervical cancer is the most common HPV cancer among women, with 64% of all new cases among women most likely caused by HPV. Incidence and mortality rates are highest in Black and Hispanic women.

HPV is a group of more than 150 viruses. It is so common that nearly all people will get at least one HPV virus at some point in their lives. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can lead to a long list of health issues — genital warts, as well as cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis and anus.

Screening for HPV can inform your doctor of your risk of getting cancer from HPV. Problems can be found and treated before they turn into cancer. 

Learn more about the HPV vaccine. 

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own best medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the best course of treatment. 

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