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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Preventing cervical cancer

Taking proactive steps can make a major difference....

Cervical cancer is a serious health concern, but the good news is that it can be preventable. As parents, we play a crucial role in protecting our children’s health and well-being. In this article, we'll discuss practical tips and strategies for reducing cervical cancer rates in young women.

Understanding Cervical Cancer and HPV: Cervical cancer is primarily caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus, usually spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact, including sexual activity. It is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer – the fourth-most common cause of cancer in women worldwide.  


HPV Vaccination: One of the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer is through vaccination programmes against HPV. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls, ideally starting between the ages of 11 and 12 (but it can be started from as young as 9 years old). Vaccinating at a young age provides the best protection before potential exposure to the virus. However, the vaccine can still be beneficial if administered later, so do discuss vaccination with your child's healthcare provider.

A recent study released in 2024 from Public Health Scotland (PHS), in collaboration with the Universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh, shows that no cervical cancer cases had been detected in fully vaccinated women following the human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation at age 12-13 since the programme was started in Scotland in 2008….that’s over a 16 year period!

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, concluded that the HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing the development of cervical cancer. (Ref:


In the United States, HPV infections and cervical precancers (abnormal cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer) have also decreased significantly since 2006, when HPV vaccines were first used.

  • Among teen girls, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have reduced by 88 percent.

  • Among young adult women, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have reduced by 81 percent.

Immunisation also helps to protect both boys and girls from other HPV-related cancers later in life, such as head, neck and anogenital cancers as well as genital warts. 

Over 15 years of data have shown that HPV vaccines are very safe and effective, according to te Centre for Disease Control (CDC). And like all vaccines, scientists continue to monitor HPV vaccines for efficacy and safety.

Open Communication: Establishing open communication with your young person about sexual health is important. When the time is right, encourage them to ask questions and discuss any concerns they may have. By fostering a safe and supportive environment, you can help your child make informed decisions about their health, including HPV vaccination and safe sexual practices.


Regular Screenings: While HPV vaccination is highly effective, regular cervical cancer screenings (like pap smears and HPV tests as advised by your healthcare provider) are still important for early detection and treatment of any abnormalities.


Promoting Healthy Behaviors: Emphasize the importance of healthy behaviours that can reduce the risk of HPV infection and cervical cancer in young people. This includes practicing safe sex, using condoms consistently and correctly, and avoiding smoking, as smoking can increase the risk of cervical cancer in women with HPV.


Lead by Example: As a parent, you are a powerful role model for your child. Take care of your own health and prioritize preventive measures, such as regular screenings and vaccinations. By demonstrating healthy behaviours, you can inspire your young person to take proactive steps to protect their own health.


Stay Informed: Stay updated on the latest recommendations and guidelines for cervical cancer prevention. Discuss any new developments or concerns with your child's healthcare provider to ensure that you are making well-informed decisions about your child's health.

Remember, cervical cancer is preventable, and by taking proactive steps, you can help reduce the risk for your child. Start the conversation about cervical cancer prevention early and empower your child to take control of their health. Talk to your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine. Together, we can work towards a future where cervical cancer is no longer a threat to our loved ones.


Be well,


Dr  Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. She is also a certified children's mindfulness teacher and Positive Discipline Parenting coach. You can find out more at

Our AI wellness assistant has contributed to the writing of this article.

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