(WJBK) - Erin Andrews is known for her sideline reporting, but now she's proving just how tough she is. She recently revealed she has been diagnosed and treated for cervical cancer.
Her interview with Sports Illustrated describes she underwent surgery, didn't need chemo or radiation and was able to return to work two days after her surgery. This revelation will do a lot to send the message to women that screening is so important, and that cervical cancer is now very preventable.
Here's some good news, cervical cancer related deaths in the U.S. have dropped drastically due to improvements in screening procedures, and because of the introduction of the HPV vaccine cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
Dr. Robert Debernardo of Cleveland Clinic says screening recommendations can be confusing, which is why it's important to see a women's health doctor regularly.
"The discussion in this country has changed so, 'When do I need a pap smear?' which most women translate into, 'I don't need to see a gynecologist.' I would tell you, forget about it. See a gynecologist once a year - you'll get screened appropriately," he says.
While certain cancers do run in families, cervical cancer is not one of them. Doctors now know that 99 percent of cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than a hundred different subtypes of HPV, but only a few are associated with the development of cervical cancer.
Dr. Debernardo adds while cervical pre-cancers are still very common; most will not develop into cancer. Another important component to preventing cervical cancer is the HPV vaccine. Doctors recommend both boys and girls get the vaccine as it helps them develop an immunity to the virus.
"There's been a lot of resistance to the HPV vaccine, because [people think], 'Oh, it's sexually transmitted.' It's ridiculous, you know, you want your kids to be healthy. You want them to be educated; you want them to be successful in life. Why would you prevent them? Why would you stop them from having something that could prevent a catastrophic cancer that kills young women?"
Eighty percent of sexually active young men and women will be exposed to HPV in their lifetime. Doctors say this makes it extremely important for boys and girls to be vaccinated at a young age.