Teen STD Epidemic - Annual PAP Smear and GARDASIL® Vaccine Provide Strong Defense vs. Cervical Cancer: Dr. Tom Lyons Debunks Myths of Cervical Cancer Prevention and Risks

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With one quarter of the population of teenage girls testing positive for sexually transmitted diseases (or more than 3 million teens), gynecologic surgery pioneer Dr. Tom Lyons strongly advocates the GARDASIL vaccine for girls at their first gynecologic exam--BEFORE they become sexually active.

With one quarter of the population of teenage girls testing positive for sexually transmitted diseases (or more than 3 million teens), gynecologic surgery pioneer Dr. Tom Lyons strongly advocates the GARDASIL vaccine for girls at their first gynecologic exam--BEFORE they become sexually active. http://www.thomasllyons.com

GARDASIL is the only vaccine that may help guard against diseases caused by HPV Types 16 and 18, which cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and HPV Types 6 and 11, which cause 90% of genital warts cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human papillomavirus or HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in teen girls age 14 to 19.

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina). Only certain types of HPV cause cervical cancer.

When a female becomes infected with these specific types of HPV and the virus doesn't go away on its own, abnormal cells can develop in the lining of the cervix. If not discovered early and treated, these abnormal cells can become cervical precancers and then cancer.

"Viruses are everywhere," said Dr. Lyons of the globally renowned Center for Women's Care & Reproductive Surgery in Atlanta. "The body does a good job of protecting itself if the immune system is okay. But you can't kill a virus by washing. You need to prevent it from taking hold, which is what this vaccination does," he said. http://www.thomasllyons.com

The vaccine is given as three injections over six months. Although currently recommended for use by women age 26 and under, in the near future its guidelines will be expanded to include women up to age 45, he said.

How is HPV Transmitted?

HPV affects both women and men. Anyone who has any kind of sexual activity involving genital contact with an infected person can get HPV---intercourse isn't necessary.

Many people who may have HPV may not show any signs or symptoms, so they can pass the virus on without even knowing it.

HPV is easily transmitted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20 million people in the United States are currently infected with HPV.

According to the CDC, the only way you can totally protect yourself against HPV is to avoid any sexual activity that involves genital contact.

Even the vaccination of GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important to continue regular cervical cancer screenings, according to Dr. Lyons. http://www.thomasllyons.com

No Additional Testing Beyond PAP Needed

"The best news is that you don't need to have any fancy viral testing or identification done beyond the PAP smear, which is the best screening test for cervical cancer," said Dr. Lyons. "The PAP smear is 99% specific and 99% sensitive. If you have a normal PAP smear you don't have cervical cancer," he said.

He said that some television advertising suggests that the PAP smear is not enough to tell for certain about cervical cancer, when it really is.

"Women do not need to fear the consequences of HPV as long as they simply get a PAP smear once a year and do the appropriate follow-up if there's an abnormality," Dr. Lyons explained.

The best news, said Dr. Lyons, is that treatment for cervical cancer does not automatically preclude the ability to give birth to a child. Former cervical cancer patients who have had their cervix removed are still able to give birth. http://www.thomasllyons.com

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