Tremendous strides have been made in reducing the rate of cervical cancer. However, women continue to be afflicted by a disease that is potentially preventable and curable. The women who remain most susceptible to the development of cervical cancer are those who are lost to screening or who do not receive screening at all. Therefore, family physicians must remain vigilant by screening all appropriate women with routine Pap smears.
Research is under way to find ways to prevent cervical cancer. The focus of this research is on HPV. Highly antigenic recombinant vaccines without potentially carcinogenic DNA are under investigation. A vaccine for preexposure prophylaxis has proved effective in animal models. Clinical trials that investigate postexposure vaccines are currently under way and appear to be promising.
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