Epidemic: Annual PAP Smear & GARDASIL®
Provides Strong Defense Vs. Cervical Cancer
Dr. Tom Lyons
Debunks Myths of Cervical Cancer Prevention & Risks
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.
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
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
Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix (the lower part of the
uterus that connects to the vagina). Only certain types of HPV cause
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.
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
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.
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
"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.
Email the Center for Women's Care
Center for Women's Care &
Reproductive Surgery© 2006
1140 Hammond Drive, Suite
Atlanta, Georgia 30328.
Toll Free 1 (888) 545-0400
Metro Atlanta (770) 352-0037
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