cervical cancer

Can anyone get HPV?

Someone asked us:

My teacher told me only women get HPV and not men; I don’t think that’s right or true. Could I get some clarification?

You’re right on this one. Anyone can get HPV— which is why it’s so important for everyone to get the HPV vaccine. There are a lot of different types of HPV, and most of them go away on their own and don’t cause cancer — but sometimes HPV can lead to cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, mouth or throat. The type of cancer that’s most often caused by HPV is cervical cancer, which is why some people associate HPV with people who have a cervix.

Unfortunately there’s no HPV test for people who are packing a penis. Those of us with a cervix can go to a doctor for an HPV or Pap test to look for HPV or any HPV-caused abnormal cells. HPV is super common, but the problems it can cause are easily treated when caught early.

Hope this helps!

-Kellie at Planned Parenthood


A decade on, vaccine has halved cervical cancer rate
The world's first cancer vaccine has halved the number of new cervical cancers ten years after it was first administered in Australia.

The world’s first cancer vaccine was administered in Australia exactly 10 years ago.

Since then, the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine has been rolled out across 130 countries and halved the number of new cervical cancers.

The HPV vaccine also protects against cancers in the throat and mouth in both men and women.

Prof Ian Frazer said the vaccine could eradicate cancers caused by HPV within 40 years.

“It helps not only control cervical cancer but also the oropharyngeal cancer - the cancers inside the mouth that are caused by these viruses,” Prof Frazer, chief executive of the Translational Research Institute, said.

“If we vaccinate enough people we will eliminate these viruses because they only infect humans. And in Australia there’s already been a 90% reduction in infections in the 10 years the programme has been running.”

Continue Reading.

If you're an ace with a cervix...

I’m posting this because I’ve seen this question come up a number of times in posts and comments, and there seems to be a lot of confusion and uncertainty around it.

If you are sexually active, or have been previously, you should have regular Pap tests according to the schedule recommended by your doctor.

If you are not sexually active and have never been sexually active, you may not need to have Pap tests done and you should talk to your doctor. Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV infection is almost always caused by sexual (specifically, genital) contact. Because of this, if you are not sexually active and have never been sexually active, there’s a good chance your doctor will recommend that you do not need to have Pap tests done.

You do not need to tell them that you’re asexual, since this is about behavior rather than attraction or orientation.

A lot of things written about Pap tests and cervical cancer seem to assume that all people with cervixes over age 21 are or have been sexually active and they may not provide a specific recommendation in the case of a sexually non-active adult. This seems to be the source of most of the confusion and uncertainty (public health officials, may I kindly suggest not making heteronormative and sex-normative assumptions).

A Pap test is, shall we say, not the world’s most comfortable procedure and sex-averse or sex-repulsed aces may feel especially anxious about it (many of us have a specific aversion or repulsion response to the idea of having something in the vagina). So it’s worth talking with your doctor to find out if you may not need to have it done after all.

I had talked previously with my doctor about this and he had said it was not necessary. Then this week, my healthcare provider’s automated system looked at my age, gender, and medical history and flagged me as needing to have a Pap test done ASAP. I talked to my doctor again and he not only confirmed that I don’t need to have it done, but he put a special note on my record so that I don’t keep getting these reminders. It may seem a bit scary to bring it up, but it can be worth it and make your life easier.

Rise in Early Cervical Cancer Detection Is Linked to Affordable Care Act

Cancer researchers say there has been a substantial increase in women under the age of 26 who have received a diagnosis of early-stage cervical cancer, a pattern that they say is most likely an effect of the Affordable Care Act.

Starting in 2010, a provision of the health law allowed dependents to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. The number of uninsured young adults fell substantially in the years that followed. The share of 19- to 25-year-olds without health insurance declined to 21 percent in the first quarter of 2014 from 34 percent in 2010 — a decrease of about four million people, federal data show.

Researchers used the National Cancer Data Base, a hospital-based registry of about 70 percent of all cancer cases in the United States. They compared diagnoses for women ages 21 to 25 who had cervical cancer with those for women ages 26 to 34, before and after the health law provision began in 2010. Early-stage diagnoses rose substantially among the younger group — the one covered by the law — and stayed flat among the older group.

What does an abnormal Pap test mean for my partner and me?

Someone asked us:

Hi I recently got an abnormal papsmear and I was told I have hpv? but I didn’t have it last year my bf and i are exclusive with each other. Does this mean my bf now has it as well? And what if I’m trying to have a baby?? please help me understand I’m very stressed out.

I’m sorry you’re so stressed out. The truth is there’s probably nothing to be scared of just yet. HPV is very very common — most people will get it at some point in their lives.

Sometimes HPV is dormant and doesn’t show symptoms or show up on a Pap test until months or years after getting it, so it’s pretty much impossible to know when you got it or from whom. It’s possible your boyfriend has it, and it’s possible he had it first (just because HPV didn’t show up in your Pap last year doesn’t mean it wasn’t in your body). And there’s no HPV test for men, so there’s really no way to know if he has it.

The good news is that HPV usually clears up on its own. You may need to have Pap tests done more often for a while to see if it goes away on its own or not. If it doesn’t, your doctor can give you tests/treatment in the future to keep you healthy. And you can absolutely have a totally healthy pregnancy if you have HPV. If the HPV does progress and eventually needs treatment, you’re still very likely to have a totally healthy pregnancy. Just make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations for how often you should get Pap tests so they can keep an eye on it.

Learn more about HPV and Pap tests>>

Hope this helps!

-Julia at Planned Parenthood

Lesbians and bisexual women are as likely as heterosexual
women to develop cervical cancer, and yet are up to 10 times less
likely to undergo regular screening for the disease. This disparity
occurs within a broader context of marginalization of lesbian
and bisexual women in the healthcare system. Lesbians are less
likely to access preventive care compared to other women, and
both lesbians and bisexual women are less likely to be insured
compared to other women. Although cervical cancer was once
one of the most deadly female cancers, early detection through
regular screening has transformed this disease into the most
preventable female cancer. Due to low rates of regular cervical
cancer screening, lesbians and bisexual women are priority
populations for cervical cancer control in this country.

Promoting Cervical Cancer Screening Among Lesbians and Bisexual Women. 

From the pdf: 

“In 2008, 12,410 American women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,008 women died from the disease. The five-year survival rate after diagnosis is 67.9%, though when caught early and localized, the rate is 90.7%.”

Don’t be a statistic— get screened. 

Learning to get HPV vaccines to the world’s poorest girls

Celina Hanson (Gavi), Paul Bloem (WHO) & Emily Loud (Gavi). 

Women in developing countries disproportionately suffer from the burden of cervical cancer, yet often their countries do not have resources to establish screening programs that save women’s lives elsewhere.  In these countries, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination provides an amazing opportunity to prevent cervical cancer and protect women’s health.

Vaccine delivery poses challenges, many of which are the same that we see for other vaccines.  These may include not having enough fridges to keep the vaccines cold, or not enough health workers to vaccinate children, or children living in isolated rural areas where distance and unpaved roads make it harder for parents to reach facilities.

Other challenges are unique to the HPV vaccine.  To start, most countries have experience vaccinating infants and these vaccinations are given when women visit clinics with their babies.  The HPV vaccine, however, is not given to babies but to girls between 9 and 13 years old.

Here are some lessons from the experiences of introducing countries so far:

Learning by doing

Before introducing the HPV vaccine at a national level, many countries have started to learn by vaccinating girls in a small area to determine the best delivery strategy.  Doing this in a Gavi supported pilot or demonstration also allows countries to secure the technical assistance they need, to develop training and monitoring materials, and to consider the integration of vaccination with other health services.  This learning allows countries to develop solutions to challenges that were not anticipated.

Map: from original article

Health and education – achieving more together

Schools have been a popular place around which to centre much of the delivery of HPV vaccines in these countries.  In order for this strategy to work well, strong co-ordination between health and education sectors is essential.  From planning the vaccination dates, engaging schools in mobilization of parents and girls, to supporting implementation of vaccination sessions – schools and teachers make important contributions, which have translated in high acceptance levels of this new vaccine.

A venue for HPV vaccination in Ghana. Photo: Gavi/Evelyn Hockstein 

How to reach all girls affordably?

In order to reach all girls with the vaccine, countries are testing other strategies to reach different populations as well, such as outreach and using alternative facilities. Delivering HPV vaccine with other health interventions like deworming, menstrual hygiene education or tetanus shots is also being explored. 

A girl living in a rural Ethiopian community. Photo: Gavi/Niligun Aydogan. 

HPV vaccination as a catalyst

HPV vaccination is a highly effective intervention – but it must be linked to effective screening and treatment programs to prevent cervical cancer.  The demonstration programs assist countries to strengthen comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and control plans.  Over time, it can also act as a catalyst for even wider health interventions that benefit all adolescents.  

Kids pose together in the Pokhara region of Nepal. Photo: Gavi/Oscar Seykens.

This blog was based on a review of progress that was recently published in the journal Vaccines. Read it in full here.

For everyone messaging me telling me that they think that Gardasil is dangerous, that they’d never get it done, that they’d never let their children take it, or that they now fear for my health because I have taken it:

The Gardasil Vaccine is Perfectly Safe

Here is an article with a lot of scholarly and medical resources on its safety: http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/one-stop-shop-science-myth-debunking-gardasil/

Here’s the CDC’s article on reported side effects: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/HPV/jama.html

Here’s the study done by NCBI: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23027469

And if you’d like to see more articles in plain language here’s several articles by multiple sources including snopes:





To Long Didn’t Want to Read? A really important scientific fact is correlation does not equal causation. Yes, some people had really bad medical problems or even died after taking the shot. From Pre-Existing Conditions. Doctors and Scientists have ruled that none of these were caused by the shot. It has also been proven to be effective for preventing the strains of HPV that it supposed to and is helpful. Anyone who says otherwise is operating under misconceptions, non scientific sources, and fearmongers.

What its like to be in your early 20′s with a chronic illness

Or in my case, multiple chronic illnesses.
1. Drinking: hahahahahahaha not with that medication babe. And if you can at all, very lightly. 

2. Going out: It depends on what the plans are, either way be prepared to cancel last minute and fear all of your friends hate you. Oh and if its for food, be prepared to have a massive anxiety attack about what you can/can’t each. Oh and if your intestines are going to explode in the middle of dinner.

3. Relationships: Constant fear that they are going to leave you because you are “always sick” “you never feel good”. Dates will be rare. Sex will be rare.

4. Sleep: You ALWAYS want it. Sometimes you lay there in agonizing pain and can’t seem to sleep. Sometimes you can’t wake up. Just depends on the day.

Through all of the good and bad days you have to grit your teeth and push through. You go to work when you want to stay home and rest your joints. You go to class, even though you have to get up every five minutes and puke. You try your hardest to have/keep conversations with people, even though you are jealous of their adventures and “spending money”. You choose which medication and which doctor bill you can afford out of your paycheck. You laugh, and tell everyone “yeah yeah one day I will have kids.” When you know your own medical conditions (and the fear of passing it on) will prevent that completely. Plus who would want to marry someone that was “always sick”.

Latinas have highest incidence of cervical cancer; groups work to provide information and care

According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Latinas are less likely than other groups to have access to employer sponsored health coverage or private plans. Sixty-six percent of immigrant women don’t have access to employer sponsored coverage.

The situation is even worse for Latinas in Texas whose rates are 19 percent higher than the national average and 11 percent higher than the national average for Latinas. Women living in counties on the U.S. Mexico border are 31 percent more likely to die of cervical cancer compared to women in non-border counties.

Are you still waiting to get the HPV vaccine?

According to the Centers for Disease Control
, not enough people are getting vaccinated against HPV. The HPV vaccine can protect you against the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. We’ve got answers to common questions about the HPV vaccine on our website. Reblog this post to help get the word out about the HPV vaccine.

Gynecologic Cancer Warning Signs

Warning Symptoms:

I kind of feel like I need to post this every few months. Keep an eye out for this stuff, ladies. 

  • Indigestion, heartburn, nausea, or gas
  • Abdominal swelling or discomfort
  • Pelvic pain or cramping
  • Bloating or a sense of fullness, even after small meals
  • Backache
  • Painful, frequent, or burning urination with no infection
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss or gain
  • Vaginal bleeding or irregular periods
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge after menopause
  • Pain during intercourse

Cervical Cancer can be indicated by Plasma Thermograph

Researchers at the University of Louisville have confirmed that using the heat profile from a person’s blood, called a plasma thermogram, can serve as an indicator for the presence or absence of cervical cancer, including the stage of cancer.

The team, led by Nichola Garbett, Ph.D., published its findings online today in PLOS ONE.

“We have been able to demonstrate a more convenient, less intrusive test for detecting and staging cervical cancer,” Garbett said. “Additionally, other research has shown that we are able to demonstrate if the current treatment is effective so that clinicians will be able to better tailor care for each patient.”

Nichola C. Garbett, Michael L. Merchant, C. William Helm, Alfred B. Jenson, Jon B. Klein, Jonathan B. Chaires. Detection of Cervical Cancer Biomarker Patterns in Blood Plasma and Urine by Differential Scanning Calorimetry and Mass Spectrometry. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (1): e84710 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084710Number

Heating a patient’s blood could offer a simple new test for cervical cancer (pictured).