Cervical cancer used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death for women in the United States. Thankfully, this rate has decreased over the past 30 years. Cervical cancer deaths have decreased by more than 50 percent due to regular screening tests that detect abnormalities before cancer develops. Regular Pap tests screen for cervical cancer helping to detect abnormal cells before they become cervical cancer. It's estimated that more than 12,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year and about 4,200 women will die from cervical cancer. HPV is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer. The majority of cervical cancer and pre-cancerous lesions are caused by two specific types of HPV; HPV-16 and HPV-18. These two types account for 70 percent of all cervical cancers. The key to decreasing the number of deaths related to cervical cancer are prevention and early detection. Well woman exams, Pap test and HPV testing are keys to detecting abnormal cells before they progress to cancer. There is an HPV vaccine available to help prevent contracting HPV. The vaccine works best when given at age 11 or 12. The vaccination is given in three parts over a series of months and is recommended for males age 13-21 and females from age 13-26. The best prevention is early detection and routine screenings with your primary care doctor should begin as early as possible. To schedule an appointment with your primary care manager call the TRICARE appointment line at 1.866.299.4234. (Editor's note: Capt. Manuel Rodriguez is an OB-GYN assigned to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital.)