Healthy Tip Tuesday: Cervical Health Awareness Month
(Dennison, Ohio) – In this week’s Healthy Tip Tuesday, Trinity Hospital Twin City is bringing awareness to cervical health and resources available.
According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and more than 4,000 die as a result. However, experts stress that the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates all women are at risk for cervical cancer and it occurs most often in women over the age of 30.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex. The CDC notes that at least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent HPV infections are available. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life, according to the CDC.
Contracting HPV. Officials explain that there are many types of HPV and some types can cause changes on a woman’s cervix that can lead to cervical cancer over time, while other types can cause genital or skin warts. For most women who contract HPV, it will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer.
- Other things that may increase your risk of cervical cancer –
- Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more year).
- Having given birth to three or more children.
- Having several sexual partners.
Officials indicate two tests that can help prevent cervical cancer –
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately You should start getting a Pap test at age 21.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
Additionally, experts recommend the HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. It is recommended for preteens (both boys and girls) aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given as early as 9 and until age 26. The vaccine is given in a series of either two or three shots, depending on age. The CDC notes that even women who are vaccinated against HPV, however, need to have regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
According to the CDC, early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms. Advanced cervical cancer may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal for you, such as bleeding after sex. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor.