January 2018 is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix (lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina) grow out of control. Symptoms include vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain and pain during sexual intercourse/dyspareunia.
Below are 5 things you need to know:
Caused by HPV
Human Papillomavirus is contracted through sexual intercourse with someone who has it. Roughly 99% of cervical cancers are caused by this infection. The most common strains of the virus, HPV 16 and HPV 18, are responsible for about 70 percent of all cases of the disease. Roughly 14 million new HPV infections are detected each year. Some clear up, but infections that persist can lead to serious health problems. It is important that you go for regular pap tests, as HPV could cause genital warts or lead to cervical cancer. The test finds changes in the cervical cells before they turn into cancer. When treated early, you could prevent cancer.
It is Preventable
A few vaccines have been introduced and approved for the cure of cervical cancer. Some of such are the Gardasil (app. 2006) to cure HPV 16 and 18 and the Cervarix(app.2009). in 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration went on to approve a third vaccine – Gardasil 9, which has shown to be 97% effective in the cure of cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer. It is recommended that men and women between the ages of 9 to 26 years old, be vaccinated against HPV
In fact, make it a ritual. Things like these are really important in our lives – they need to be prevented and stay prevented. Your screening should include an annual pelvic exam and a periodic pap test. If you are a woman in your 20s, ensure you get a pap test done every three years as long as results don’t change and remain normal. If you are between the ages of 30 to 60 years old, make sure to get yours done every five years, all things been equal.
Warning signs may be scarce
Vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain and dyspareunia are later symptoms so if you already feel any one of these, get yourself checked fast! The early symptoms won’t go off like an alarm and this is why screening is important. The symptoms of cervical cancer often seems like it’s usual (for example the vaginal pain), but it’s not. You might think it’s just another irregular period and/or menstrual cramps but it’s worse. If you suspect anything, get yourself checked out.
You have been diagnosed. What’s next? There are different surgeries that can be carried out at different stages, some of which include the cone biopsy, radical trachelectomy, hysterectomy. These surgeries commonly have to do with removing infected parts to reduce chances of reoccurrence(s).
What do you know about cervical cancer? Have you ever had a pap test done? Let’s talk in the comments!