Ten Facts About Cervical Cancer
In honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month, it is important to know the facts about cervical cancer. Read on to educate yourself about the basics of this particular cancer, including symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
- Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. It is the easiest gynecological cancer to prevent with the use of regular screenings.
- When caught early, cervical cancer is highly curable.
- All women are at risk for developing cervical cancer, but it occurs most often in women over the age of 30.
- The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus, or HPV. This disease is commonly passed from one person to another during sex
- In the beginning, cervical cancer may not have any obvious signs or symptoms. In more advanced stages, it can cause bleeding or discharge that is not typical. Women experiencing any of these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.
- Aside from having HPV, you can increase your risk for cervical cancer by smoking, having HIV or another health condition that weakens your immune system, using birth control pills for more than five years, or giving birth to three or more children.
- To prevent cervical cancer, women can get the HPV vaccine. Additionally, women should see their doctor regularly for Pap smears, follow-up with the doctor if the results are not normal, avoid smoking, use condoms during sex, and limit the number of sexual partners.
- The Pap smear is one of the most reliable, effective cancer screening tests out there. Women should begin getting regular Pap smears beginning at age 21. If the results of the test are normal, another test is not needed for three years.
- The HPV test is another way to screen for cervical cancer. This can be used in women ages 30 and older and can provide more information if your Pap smear results are unclear.
- Women who are told they have cervical cancer should ask to be referred to a gynecologic oncologist. This is a doctor that has been trained to treat these kinds of cancers and can work with you to create a personalized treatment plan.
Speak with your doctor today to discuss your cervical health.