Cervical cancer isn’t exactly dinner table talk. But every January, Cervical Cancer Awareness Month serves as an important reminder that knowing about it – and what puts you at risk for it – could save your life. Every year, more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and the cause for most of those cases is human papillomavirus infection, or HPV.
“HPV isn’t just a single virus, but a family of more than 100 types,” says M. Bijoy Thomas, MD, gynecologic oncologist with LVPG Gynecologic Oncology. “Of those 100, two types – HPV16 and HPV18 – are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than nine of every 10 cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV infection. A high percentage of vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and head and neck cancers also are linked to HPV.