Cervical Cancer: What You Need To Know

Cervical cancer is known widely as the silent killer. Learning more about this disease can help you take precautionary steps to stay healthy.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there are over 13,000 new cervical cancer cases in the United States for 2020. Once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women, the rates of cervical cancer deaths have dropped dramatically. This is due to the Pap test's increased use, which can discover changes in the cervix before cancer develops. Additionally, the Pap test can find cervical cancer early when it is small and has a higher cure rate. The HPV test is used as a screening test, as the human papillomavirus or HPV causes almost all cervical cancers.  

Knowledge is power, so we are sharing some facts about cervical cancer:

*HPV is the #1 cause of cervical cancer: HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection though not all strains are transmitted sexually. With over 200 types of HPV, some strains are lower risk, like genital warts. There are approximately 40 types of HPV that cause genital warts and they don't lead to more serious health issues. The HPV that results in cervical cancer is a high-risk HPV.

*HPV Vaccine: Since cervical cancer is commonly caused by HPV, it can be prevented by the HPV vaccination. The most widely optimal time for the vaccine is during the preteen years at ages 11 or 12. The CDC has reported that people under 45 can still take the vaccine if they haven't had it yet. Outside of these age ranges? Talk to your doctor to find out any risks if you were to take the vaccine now.

*Cervical cancer impacts all ages: Although once thought to affect older women, which is a fallacy, cervical cancer can happen to anyone. By age 21, the CDC recommends getting your first Pap test. For women older than 30, the options are a Pap test, an HPV test or a combination of a Pap and HPV test. Speak with your doctor about these options and the frequency you'll need to take the next test.

*No early warning signs= "Silent Killer":  With no detectable cervical cancer symptoms until later stages, screening is extremely important. Signs of advanced cervical cancer include:
*Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that can be heavy and has a foul odor
*Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
*Vaginal bleeding between periods, after menopause or after intercourse

*Smokers? You're twice as likely to develop cervical cancer: 
As smoking weakens your immune system, you become more vulnerable to HPV. Other factors that increase your risk of developing cervical cancer include obesity and family history.

Make your health a priority. Be vigilant about keeping appointments for your screening and speaking with your doctor. 

To make an appointment, call (631) 587-2500 today.  

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