A London study printed in The Lancet medical journal shows regular gynecological screenings could reduce the number or cases of cervical cancer by allowing doctors the opportunity to detect cervical abnormalities at an earlier stage. Early screening programs in London have cut the number of cases of particular types of cervical cancer by as much as 65 percent. Specifically, doctors were able to detect cervical adenocarcinoma–a fairly rare type of cervical cancer, but one that is becoming more prevalent because more women are being exposed to the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV can result in abnormal cell changes on the cervix, which could be an indication of cancer.
An estimated 40 to 80 percent of Americans are infected with HPV, certain strains of which cause genital warts on women and men, but women infected with the virus can suffer a far more severe side effect–cervical cancer–if the virus goes undetected. HPV is contracted through sexual contact with an infected person, but can also be transmitted by skin-to-skin genital contact without ejaculation. There is no way to prevent the transmission of HPV except for abstinence.