Cervcial Cancer is the fifth leading cause of death in women worldwide. In some countries it's the leading cause of death, but not in the U.S. because the Pap Test can find it before it becomes full blown cancer. Trouble is many women in this country aren't getting screened.
Many women believe that when you reach an older age you no longer need to get a Pap Test, but many doctors say that's a common misconception. One Gynecological Oncologist says women need to remember that even though they are older and may not have been sexually active for many years, they are still at risk for getting Cervical Cancer because they may have contracted the HPV virus many years before.
Certain strains of HPV or Human Papilloma Virus are thought to cause Cervical Cancer, but it is only one of several important risk factors for the female disease. In addition to HPV there's also a woman's sexual history. The earlier she become sexually active and the greater her number of sexual partners, the more likely she is to become infected with HPV.
Smoking also puts a woman at high risk, as does race. Blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asians especially Vietnamese women are at much greater risk than White women. And then there’s age, women over 65 makeup about 50 percent of the deaths every year of Cervical Cancer in the US and when you question those women, many of them have not had adequate screening.
Cervical Cancer deaths are virtually 100 percent preventable if you get regular Pap Tests, yet 20 percent of American women are not being screened regularly which puts them at three to 10 times greater risk. Pap Tests catch the disease in the pre-cancerous stage when treatment can prevent it from progressing to full fledged cancer.