Cervical cancer is detectable with regular pap tests. Here’s what you need to know in time for National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in January.
January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s important to look at how cervical cancer has affected women’s lives. In the United States in 2019, about 13,170 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, and around 4,250 women have died or will die from it. With more knowledge of symptoms, awareness of the importance of being tested, and availability of treatment, healthcare professionals are hopeful these numbers will eventually decrease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. However, in the past 40 years, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly. This decline largely is the result of many women getting regular pap tests, which can find cervical precancer before it turns into cancer.”
What is Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a carcinoma cancer that develops in a woman’s cervical lining. It’s usually caused when human papillomavirus (HPV) lingers and grows in the cervical lining. HPV is usually cured by a woman’s body’s immune system. But women should always consult their physician if they feel they might have contracted HPV. Treatment options can speed healing and decrease risk for cervical cancer.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Symptoms of cervical cancer include irregular bleeding, watery and bloody discharge and pelvic pain during intercourse. Other than these few symptoms, there are not many warning signs that something may be wrong.
Cervical Cancer Risk Factors
There are several risk factors for cervical cancer, including:
Many sexual partners
Early sexual activity
Other sexually transmitted infections
A weakened immune system
Long term use of birth control pills
Having three or more pregnancies
An additional risk factor includes a history of cervical cancer in the family. During well-woman visits, patients are asked for their family history to determine additional risk of cervical cancer, because cervical cancer can be passed down genetically
How is Cervical Cancer Diagnosed?
There are many ways to treat cervical cancer, including biopsies and chemotherapy. There are multiple pre-cancers associated with cervical cancer, because it takes years to grow. These pre-cancers change the genetic makeup of healthy cells. These will be taken into account during treatment.
Conclusion: Cervical Cancer is Detectable and Treatable
The fact that cervical cancer is treatable gives women comfort. Regular well-woman visits, including pap tests, are critical to detecting anything out of the ordinary. Contact us today to schedule your well-woman visit, and talk with your physician about your risks for cervical cancer and the frequency with which you should receive pap tests.