Cervical Cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide. With routine cervical cancer screening, this cancer is highly detectable and preventable.
When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. The cervix connects the vagina (birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus. The uterus (or womb) is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant.
- Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus, a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex.
- Having HIV, AIDS or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems
- Long-term use of birth control pills (five or more years)
- Having given birth to three or more children
- Having several sexual partners
Reducing your Risk of Cervical Cancer
Two tests can help prevent cervical cancer-
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers or cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. Women should start getting Pap tests at age 21.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
For women aged 21-65, it is essential to keep getting a Pap test as directed by your doctor- even if you believe you are too old to have a child or are refraining from sexual activity.
How to Prepare for your Pap Test
You should not schedule your Pap test for a time when you are having your period. If you are going to have a Pap test in the next two days—
- You should not douche (rinse the vagina with water or another fluid)
- You should not use a tampon
- You should not have sex
- You should not use a birth control foam, cream or jelly
- You should not use a medicine or cream in your vagina
- There are two vaccines available to protect females against the types of HPV that cause most cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers.
- Both of these vaccines are recommended for 11 and 12-year old girls as well as females aged 13-26 who did not receive the vaccine when they were younger.
- Women are who are vaccinated against HPV still need to be getting regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer.
More Steps to Prevent Cervical Cancer
- Do not use tobacco products
- Use condoms during sex
- Limit your number of sexual partners
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
- Early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms
- Advanced cervical cancer may cause abnormal bleeding or discharge from the vagina
- If you have any of these signs, see your doctor
Spokane or Washington Specific Data
Cervical Cancer found in its early stages can be successfully treated.
Types of Cervical Cancer Treatment
Cervical Cancer is treated in several ways depending on the kind of cervical cancer and how far it has spread. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.
- Chemotherapy uses special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins.
- Radiation uses high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill cancer.
- Surgery requires doctors to remove cancer tissue in an operation
About 4,100 women will die of cervical cancer in 2015 (American Cancer Society)