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Terri Pustilnik, M.D.: Preventing Cervical Cancer

January 10, 2019

We know that the most important risk factor for developing cervical cancer is the presence of the HPV virus, as more than 90 percent of all cervical cancers have been found to have it present. Cervical cancer can be prevented; however, it's still a major problem throughout the world. In the United States, screening for precancerous changes and cervical cancer is widely available.

One of the most important health decisions a woman can make is going for her annual well-woman exam. During this visit, testing for the HPV virus with a DNA test or for precancerous changes with a pap smear is crucial for staying healthy – in addition to using protection during intercourse and maintaining a healthy lifestyle free of smoking.

A woman’s age and other risk factors will dictate how often these tests are recommended. Co-testing by using both the pap smear and HPV DNA testing is now very common and has led to earlier and better detection of abnormalities. We will continue to improve on surgical options for cervical cancer treatment and continue to explore sentinel lymph node mapping.

As more advances are made in our understanding of the immune system and its role in treatment, we will be able to better apply these treatment options to our patients.

Dr. Terri Pustilnik


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