January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and a good time to remind all the women in your life about the importance of cancer screening. In the U.S. more than 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. By learning the signs and symptoms, you can help raise awareness and promote cervical health.
When it comes to diagnosing and treating cervical cancer, you want to have gynecologic oncology leaders by your side every step of the way.
About the Cervix:
The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus and connects the vagina and uterus. It is about 2 inches long and tubular in shape. The cervix widens during childbirth to allow the passage of the baby. Menstrual fluid also passes through the cervix from the uterus.
Causes and Risk Factors of Cervical Cancer:
Cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) in combination with various other factors like smoking. As such it is a sexually transmitted disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer:
Cervical cancer or pre-cancer (called dysplasia) may not produce any symptoms in its earliest stage, so it is important to have regular screenings. Some symptoms of cervical cancer may include bleeding after intercourse and pelvic pain.
The common signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, include:
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Pain with sexual intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding or odor
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact us at 310-829-8402 to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our physicians.
Screenings for Cervical Cancer Include:
- Regular pelvic exams with your physician.
- PAP smear tests which look for cell changes on the cervix that may become cancerous if not treated properly.
- HPV tests which look for the Human Papillomavirus that can cause these cell changes.
When Should You Get Screened?
Below are the cdc.gov recommended guidelines for cervical cancer screening.
- If you are 21-29 years old, you should begin getting PAP smear tests at 21. If results are normal, your doctor may tell you can wait 3 years before being screened again.
- If you are 30-65, you should discuss with your doctor the best screening options for you. You may have a PAP test, HPV test or both. If your PAP is normal, your doctor may recommend testing again in 3 years. If your HPV test is normal, your doctor may recommend testing again in 5 years. If you had both tests and both are normal, your doctor may tell you can wait 5 years before testing again.
- If you are older than 65 years of age, your doctor may forgo testing if you have had normal screenings for years or if you have had your cervix removed. Discuss your options with your doctor to determine the best choice for you.
HPV Vaccine: Information You Need to Know
Protect the young women in your lives. The HPV vaccine can help protect these women from developing certain types of cancer later in their lives. The newest vaccine version is recommended in persons 9 through 45 years of age, so please speak with your doctor if you have younger girls/women in your family who could benefit from this vaccine.
Tips for Staying on Top of Your Cervical Health:
- Get physical
- Eat a healthy diet, including brassica veggies such as broccoli
- Schedule routine PAP smear tests
- Get the HPV vaccine
- Know your family history and share your history with your doctor
- Practice safe sex
- Stop smoking
Cervical Cancer Treatments:
- Biological targeted therapy or radiation
- A combination of the above
Call us today at 620-1115 to schedule a visit!