Women’s health involves unique challenges like breast cancer, cervical cancer, menopause, and pregnancy. Health screening in women help diagnose health issues in the early stages when they can be controlled.
Cervical Cancer Awareness Month reminds women that there are simple, affordable steps they can take to prevent cervical cancer.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer often develops slowly. It starts as precancerous changes called dysplasia. Dysplasia can be detected by a pap smear and is fully treatable.
Regular pap smears help providers detect precancerous cells so they can be removed before developing into cancer.
Quick Facts About HPV & Cervical Cancer
- HPV is a common virus spread through sexual contact.
- High-risk types of HPV are more likely to lead to cervical cancer.
- Other types of HPV cause genital warts.
- HPV can be spread even with no visible warts or other symptoms.
- More than 12,000 women in the U.S. get cervical cancer every year.
- With the right self-care, women can prevent both HPV & cervical cancer from affecting their lives.
How To Prevent Cervical Cancer
The best way to prevent cervical cancer is through regular pap tests and HPV screenings. An HPV test can also be conducted on the cells to see if a woman needs to be treated for HPV.
Prevent HPV and Cervical Cancer with Simple Practices:
- Detect cervical cancer early with a pap smear.
- Prevent HPV with the HPV vaccine.
- Follow up on abnormal Pap smears.
- Practice safe sex.
- Quit smoking.
What Causes Cervical Cancer?
HPV is present in 99 percent of cervical cancers. More than 100 types of HPV exist and most are “low-risk,” or unlikely to cause cancer. The two HPV strands responsible for 70 percent of cancer diagnoses are HPV-16 and HPV-18.
It may sound alarming that some 80 percent of women will be infected with HPV by age 50, but the majority of HPV cases – 90 percent – clear up on their own within two years.
Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer
Pre-cancer cells and early stages of cervical cancer often have no symptoms at all – making regular pap tests vital to for detecting cervical cancer early.
Advanced Stages of Cervical Cancer:
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain during urination
- Pelvic pain
It’s important to note than many of these symptoms may also be signs of other health issues, so it’s necessary to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
When women take the time to take care of themselves – getting regular pap tests, not smoking, and having protected sex – the likelihood of developing cervical cancer is greatly reduced. Call our office today to set up your annual checkup!