January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: January 5, 2015

“Cervical Cancer Prevention Requires Both Quality Healthcare and Comfort in Talking about Sexual Health.” 
No woman should die of cervical cancer. It can be cured when found early and treated.

The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screened regularly.

More than 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.
Of those, more than 4,000 of women will die

Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide.

Cervical Cancer:

  • Preventable with regular screening tests
  • Is a cancer that starts in the cervix, the narrow opening to the uterus from the vagina.
  • Almost always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Vaccines are available to protect against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer.
  • Find out more about Cervical Cancer at: http://www.nccc-online.org/index.php/cervicalcancer

Screening Tests for Cervical Cancer:

There are two screening tests which help prevent cervical cancer:

  • Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for pre-cancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.

Pap test is recommended for women over 21 years of age.

Women should start getting Pap tests regularly at age 21. You can choose to have an HPV test performed along with the Pap test (both tests can be performed by your doctor at the same time).

If you have a low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get a free or low-cost Pap test through CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection ProgramFind out if you qualify.

If your doctor says that you have cervical cancer, ask to be referred to a gynecologic oncologistA gynecologic oncologist is a doctor who has been trained to treat cancers of a woman’s reproductive system. The doctor should work with you to create a treatment plan.

InfoGraphic for Cervical Cancer on the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/infographic.htm

There are over 100 types of HPV.
Of those, about 30 are primarily associated with anogenital skin and sexual transmission. Of these, some can cause genital warts (“low-risk” HPV) while others may cause abnormal cell changes, most commonly of the cervix (“high-risk” HPV).

HPV Latency: It can take weeks, months, or even years after exposure to HPV before symptoms develop or the virus is detected. This is why it is usually impossible to determine when or from whom HPV may have been contracted.

A recent diagnosis of HPV does not necessarily mean anyone has been unfaithful, even in a long-term relationship spanning years.

Medical Impact: The medical risks of genital HPV do exist and should not to be overlooked, but a key point is that for most people, HPV is a harmless infection that does not result in visible symptoms or health complications.

For more information about HPV vaccines, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/index.html