Photo of Mark Lohkamp, DO

Dr. Mark Lohkamp Jr. is currently a first-year Family Medicine resident at the Washington Health System. He was born in Bradenton, Florida and grew up in Billerica, Massachusetts. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY where he received a bachelor’s of science in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Marketing. Dr. Lohkamp went on to work for the Rochester Eye and Tissue Bank prior to attending the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine at Seton Hill. He has an interest in sports medicine and plans to pursue a fellowship in the field after completing his residency at the Washington Health System. Dr. Lohkamp enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, hiking, staying active and exploring local breweries and restaurants.

Cervical Health Awareness Month

January is designated at Cervical Health Awareness Month. Over 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Most women diagnosed with cervical cancer are between 20 and 50 years old. Previously this was the leading cause of death for a woman in the United States. Luckily through screening and preventative measures, the number of cases has dramatically declined.

Risk Factors
The majority of cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus which is a common virus that can be passed from person to person during sex. The virus is very common and more than 80% of people have come into contact with the virus at some point in their lives.

Cervical cancer risk factors include:

  • Sexual behavior: Early age at which you first had sex (<18 years of age), multiple of sexual partners or a male sexual partner who has had many sexual partners
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoke causes cellular changes that increase the risk of precancerous changes in the cervix.
  • Age: The risk of cervical cancer increases with age and is most common in women over the age of 40.
  • Screening: Lack of regular screening
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES): This drug was used between 1940 and 1971 to help women prevent miscarriages. Women whose mothers took this medication have a higher risk of cervical and vaginal cancers.

Screening Tests
There are two commonly used methods to screen and detect potentially precancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix, the Papanicolaou or Pap test and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test.

  • The Pap test or smear looks for precancerous cervical changes which occur on a cellular level.
  • The human papillomavirus test will look for the 13 high-risk strains of the virus that are linked to cervical cancer.

Screening Recommendations
All women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21.

  • Women between 21-29 years of age should have a Pap test every 3 years, if their initial testing is normal.
  • Women between 30-65 years of age should have a Pap test and HPV (co-testing) every 5 years. It is acceptable to have a Pap test alone every three years.

The HPV vaccine protects against many strains of HPV that most often cause cervical cancers. HPV is also linked to genital warts and a number of other cancers that affect men and women. Per the CDC the following is recommended:

  • HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given starting at age 9.
  • The HPV vaccine also is recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if they are not vaccinated already.
  • HPV vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years.

Reach out to the WHS OBGYN Associates or your primary care provider for more information about screening and vaccination. All women should be screened regularly for cervical cancer.