22January

Get Proactive in Preventing Cervical Cancer!

This is the time of year when it is imperative to help women become more proactive to decrease the occurrence of cervical cancer and to increase public awareness and understanding of the approaches to screening for early detection.

Each year more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and approximately 4,000 women die as a result of it. Half of the women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer are between the ages of 35-55 and 20% are women older than 65 years of age.

Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer in women worldwide. Cervical cancer rates are higher in older women while precancerous cells rates are found in greater and greater numbers in younger women.

Staying informed about prevention and screening is important to help reduce your risk of developing this deadly disease, for cervical cancer is highly preventable with regular Pap tests. You can now find many women’s health advocates on the Internet who provide information to keep you abreast of the latest trends and treatment options.

Certain types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are linked to cervical cancer and cause persistent infection with a high risk HPV. HPV is a very common sexually transmitted disease that can cause our world much worry and need for treatment. Some of the viruses will go away while others persist and can lead to cervical cancer.

According to some sources, up to 75% of the reproductive age population (not just women but also men being carriers, meaning men who have been exposed to this virus and are transmitting it to women) has been infected with one or more types of the genital HPV’s. In the vast majority of cases, the HPV does not cause any health problems and can go away when your immune system is strong enough to help protect you. However, there are at least a 5-10 % of women who are infected with a persistent infection with the high risk HPV virus, which unfortunately can lead to cervical cancer. If there are abnormal cells found in the Pap smear, these can lead to precancerous cells (Dysplasia) which can then lead to cervical cancer and which can thereafter spread to the uterus, bladder, intestine, lungs and liver, etc.

Screening tools and vaccines can make cervical cancer easy to prevent and treat. When you go for your annual and pelvic exam, it is imperative that you ask your doctor questions about what risk you have.

Many women may never suspect they have cervical cancer until it has become advanced or metastasizes due to the fact that they have not gone to the doctor in many years or, if they have gone to the doctor, they were told they were either too old or did not need to have a pelvic exam and/or Pap anymore, especially if they have had a hysterectomy.  It is best to ask your health care provider about what screening test is needed and how often you need to have a Pap test done.

There is no better time for your New Year’s resolution to become more proactive in your health needs, which includes cervical cancer awareness.

Regular cervical cancer screenings are a crucial part of every woman’s health care but it is often overlooked.  The Pap test is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screenings we have available, for it looks for precancerous cells that may lead to cervical cancer if it is not treated.

Pap smears should be done once you have become sexually active or by 21 years of age.

Remember, the Pap test is used as a screening tool to find cervical cancer early, when it is in the most curable stage, and to detect changes in the cervix before cancer can develop.

If cervical cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 90%.

Many people often ask what some of the risk factors are for developing cervical cancer. They include:

1)   HPV virus (most common)

2)   Smoking

3)   Lowered immune system (Cancer/Elderly/ HIV-AIDS)

4)   Exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (herpes/ gonorrhea/ chlamydia)

5)   Lifestyles – multiple sexual partners or his or her partner having had multiple sexual partners

6)   No pelvic exam or Pap tests

7)   Inadequate follow-up from abnormal Pap smears or did not get any treatment for their abnormal Pap smears. Even after treatment, abnormal cells can still occur and lead to cervical cancer.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. It is a chance for all of us to make our loved ones aware of how they need to protect themselves from cervical cancer and the HPV virus, whether it is your mom, your girlfriend, your daughter or your grandmother. Cervical cancer can be prevented with regular Pap smear screening tests, pelvic exams and proper follow-up.

Remember, cervical cancer or the HPV virus may show no signs or symptoms, so being proactive in your health care is imperative.

It is all up to you to take care of yourself and to love yourself!

You are never too old or too busy to put it off. The Pap smear test/pelvic exam can save your life!

Dr. Christina

  • Posted By: DRC Editor
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