It's largely preventable and curable and death rates have dropped dramatically in the past 50 years, thanks in part to the use of the Pap test to detect the cancer early. Yet according to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer continues to affect more than 10,000 women each year.
Risk Factors and Symptoms
The most significant risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a group of viruses that causes warts. It occurs mainly in young women and is less common in women over age 30. However, the development of cervical cancer is higher for women over age 40. Right now there is no cure for the type of HPV that causes changes in the cells of the cervix; however, the abnormal cell growth it causes can be treated.
Precancerous or even cancerous changes of the cervix do not typically cause pain or any other symptoms until cancerous cells are further developed. At that time, common symptoms are abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge. This includes spotting between periods, after sexual intercourse, or after a pelvic exam. Know that these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have cancer. They can be caused by other conditions. So how can you protect yourself or someone you love from the disease?
Protect Yourself with Pap Tests
The best prevention for cervical cancer is early detection through Pap tests. These screenings should be done annually after age 18, or when a woman becomes sexually active. Pap tests can detect abnormal changes in the cervix (including those caused by HPVs) before cancer develops. During the Pap test, a specimen of tissue is taken from a patient and then tested in a laboratory. The results are sent back to the physician for review. If these exams show that an infection is present, the doctor treats the infection and then repeats the Pap test at a later time, usually in three to six months. If the exam or Pap test suggests something other than an infection, the doctor may repeat the Pap test and run other tests to determine the problem. Fortunately, up to 70 percent of women with mild dysplasia (abnormal growth of cells) require no treatment at all. Cervical cancer is highly preventable and curable. Early detection through Pap tests is the key.
|Know Your Risk Factors
Even though human papillomavirus (HPV) is an important risk factor for cervical cancer, most women with this infection do not get cervical cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Experts believe that other factors must come into play for cervical cancer to develop, and knowing the risk factors for cervical cancer is essential to guarding against the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program and the American Cancer Society list the following:
Approximately 30 out of the more than 80 types of HPV are transmitted sexually, and about half of these have been linked to cervical cancer. For information on prevention of HPV infection, visit the American Cancer Society's Web site at www.cancer.org.
The risk rises with the number of cigarettes smoked each day and the number of years the woman has smoked. Tobacco smoke releases chemicals that may damage cells of the cervix and make cancer more likely to develop.
Women with HIV/AIDS or other immunosuppressive disorders have a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical cancer from HPV infection.
This article provided by MyHealthPublisher.com and can be found here.