There are a lot of things to worry about in your twenties聽鈥 relationships, careers, money, roommates. But some young women now also have to worry about cancer. What?! You shouldn鈥檛 think that just because you鈥檙e young, you鈥檙e not at risk, especially when it comes to cancers associated with HPV (Human Papillomavirus).聽If you go to the gynecologist every year (or less, now that you can get birth control on demand), and your doctor聽has never brought up HPV, don鈥檛 be afraid to speak up.

This injection will help in defeating the disease

Turns out that, despite increased awareness of the virus, an early July CDC report聽shows that US cases of HPV are actually on the rise, and the main reason is that still not enough people are getting vaccinated.聽In 2014, only 39.7 percent of teenage girls fully completed the full three-shot HPV聽vaccination聽series and only 21.6 percent of boys.

The CDC analyzed HPV-associated cancer cases diagnosed from 2008-2012, and found that nearly 39,000 were diagnosed every year over that period. Of those, 59 percent of cases were in women, and (perhaps surprisingly to some, as the virus is most commonly associated with cervical cancer) 41 percent were among men. The CDC聽estimates that 79 percent of those HPV-associated cancer聽cases can be attributed directly to the virus, and overall, the data represents almost a full percent increase聽in聽HPV-associated cancer incidences from the last time the CDC did a study, from 2004-2008.

And the bombshell statistic: 80 percent of the cases analyzed could have been prevented by聽vaccination. Eighty percent!

Woman in doctor's office frowning

Early prevention with vaccination is the best chance at cutting down the instances of HPV-associated cancers. 聽Now that there鈥檚 more awareness in the medical community, many doctors are administering it to patients (male and female) in their teen or pre-teen years. But if you missed out on that particular teenage milestone, it may not be too late. Men can receive the vaccine up to age 21, and women until age 26.

If you鈥檝e never been vaccinated for HPV and you鈥檙e over 26, don鈥檛 panic. But do make sure you stay on top of your annual gynecological exams, including Pap smears, which are the recommended screening for cervical cancer for women in their twenties. And since HPV can be sexually transmitted (in fact, it鈥檚 the most commonly spread STD in the United States), be sure to use protection when you鈥檙e getting down in the bedroom.

What are your top health priorities in your twenties? Are you concerned about HPV? Tweet us your thoughts聽@BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)