ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Unlike ovarian cancer, cervical cancer is usually discovered in an early or pre-cancerous stage. Early detection means the survival rate for a woman diagnosed with cervical cancer is approximately 90%, says Dr. Nick Montalto.

Dr. Montalto specializes in gynecological surgery at Ellis Medicine, using minimally invasive techniques, according to Ellis Medicine.

Almost 14,000 women will get a cervical cancer diagnosis in 2020, says the American Cancer Society. Approximately 31%, or 4,290, will die. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of over 99% of cervical cancer says Dr. Montalto. He says in the future doctors will move away from the traditional pap smear and instead use a combination test to include screening for HPV or test exclusively for HPV.

Who should get the HPV vaccine?

  • Recommended for girls and boys ages 11 to 12
  • Anyone between the ages of 9 to 45

The HPV vaccine is recommended for children at age 11 or 12 and is a two-shot series. The second shot is administered six months after the first. A three-shot series is given to individuals between the ages of 15-45 over the course of six months, says Planned Parenthood.

HPV is transmitted through sexual contact and giving the shot before a person becomes sexually active means a lower chance those with the virus will pass it to their sexual partner(s), according to Planned Parenthood. Once contracted, HPV cannot be treated with the vaccine.

One of the reasons the HPV vaccine is controversial is because it prevents a sexually transmitted infection, which leads some people to believe it’s inappropriate for children. But, the thing is, the vaccine works best if you get it long before you have sex. So it’s a good idea to get it when you’re young so you won’t have to worry about getting certain kinds of cancer later in life.

Studies show that the HPV vaccine doesn’t lead to people having more sex or sex at a younger age. So giving kids the HPV vaccine doesn’t encourage them to have sex. All it does is help protect them from genital warts and cancer in adulthood.

Planned Parenthood

Upwards of 80% of people will get HPV, most cases will resolve themselves in a couple of years. It’s persistent HPV that becomes a concern because it could lead to a future cervical cancer diagnosis, says Dr. Montalto. Despite the risk, slightly more than half of 18,700 young adults between the ages of 13-17 received the HPV vaccine in a survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Women who are concerned about cervical cancer or other cancers such as ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer should focus on self-education and advocacy says Dr. Montalto. With advances in detection and treatment, he says women should stay informed and speak to their gynecologist about them.

Watch Christina Arangio’s interview with Dr. Montalto