Women's Health: Cervical Cancer

By on Jan 19, 2017

January is cervical cancer awareness month. Although cases of advanced cervical cancer have decreased over the last couple decades, approximately 12,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed each year,totaling to a 33 percent casualty rate. With early detection and treatment, you can protect yourself or other women in your life from advanced stages of cervical cancer.

What causes cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer can be traced back to the human papillomavirus (HPV). An infected person with HPV often develops genital warts and cervical cancer in advanced stages. It is commonly passed from one person to another during sexual intercourse. Currently, there is no cure for HPV. Vaccines, however, are available before being exposed.

What symptoms accompany cervical cancer?

Early stages of cervical cancer often show no symptoms. However, when cervical cancer progresses in the body, abnormal bleeding, discharge, and pain during intercourse may occur. It is important to note that these symptoms are highly correlated with other conditions than cancer, but the best resource to check with is your healthcare provider.

What risk factors does cervical cancer have?

  • Smoking
  • Being infected with HPV
  • Being infected with HIV or AIDS
  • Chronic use of birth control pills (five or more years)
  • Having three or more full-term pregnancies

Here are preventative tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Get the HPV vaccine. It protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. It is given in a serious of three shots, The vaccine is recommended for 11 and 12-year-olds girls. It is also recommended for girls and women ages 13 through 26 who did not get any or all the shots when they were younger. (Note: The vaccine can be given to girls beginning at age 9).
  • See your doctor regularly for a Pap test that can find cervical precancers.
  • Follow up with your doctor, if your Pap test results are not normal.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Use condoms during sex.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.

More information can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/pdf/cervical_facts.pdf