January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month, and we’re here to help educate you on facts about cervical cancer and what to be on the lookout for to prevent an advanced stage diagnosis. Cervical cancer awareness means stepping outside of the box and the “save the cooch” slogans. It is so much more.
Did you know that over 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer? And that over 4,000 of these cases are fatal?
Thanks to Pap tests the detection rate, and ultimately the survival rate for these women has increased over the years. While many women dread their yearly (or sometimes more frequent) visits to the gynecologists, these Pap tests are designed to look for precancerous, which are cell changes on the cervix that may or may not become cancerous if left untreated. What causes these changes? HPV ( human papillomavirus). HPV is a group of over 150 related viruses that can cause growths known as papillomas or warts. HPV often infects cells on the surface of the skin which is why they are called warts. The HPV strains to be wary of are HPV 16, HPV 18 , HPV 31, HPV 33 and HPV 45. More times than not they are the viruses that are more commonly associated with cervical cancer.
University Cancer Centers offer an HPV test along with the Pap test to ensure you are getting an accurate diagnosis. It may be an uncomfortable experience, but one that only lasts a few minutes at most, and can save you a lifetime of worry. Schedule an appointment now
Pelvic exams can also help detect anything unusual in the body, as an exam encompasses checking the uterus, ovaries and other organs. It’s important to be as informed about your body as you can be, and talking to your doctor about what tests are being performed may help ease your mind about your doctor visit. These exams are recommended for women between the ages of 21 and 65, and you should start getting yearly exams regularly. However, it is important to note that the only cancer that Pap tests screen for is cervical cancer. That’s why doctors perform a small variety of tests along with it. With the help of the Pap test over 60% of women detect cervical cancer in its earliest stages to begin treatment and fight back.
Some other signs and symptoms of cervical cancer can be, but aren’t limited to:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as spotting between periods, bleeding after intercourse or after menopause and having longer or heavier menstrual periods
- Unusual discharge from the vagina
- Pain during vaginal intercourse
If you have been experiencing these signs, please seek help immediately. While Pap tests can help detect cancer, taking other precautions to ensure that you are cancer free should be your top priority. Get screened regularly, and don’t wait for symptoms to appear.
Spread the word about the power of the Pap test and help each lady you know fight back against cervical cancer.