Thanks to improved screening and vaccination, cervical cancer has become a highly preventable and treatable disease.
PAP testing has been the standard for cervical cancer screening. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) screening has further enhanced the preventative screening testing.
HPV vaccines are also now available:
- Recommended for girls and boys to receive the 3 shot series before they are sexually active – beginning around age 11 or 12
- The vaccine is only effective before infection is contracted
- Routine cervical cancer screenings are still recommended even if someone has received the HPV vaccine – this can include PAP or HPV testing or both
Routine cervical cancer screenings are available at no cost under the Health Care Reform Act. The cost is covered as part of a ‘well-woman visit’.
The risk for cervical cancer is increased for women with a history of:
HPV (spread through sexual contact)
Multiple child births
Birth control use for an extended period
Human Immunodeficiency Virus HIV
Cervical cancer is most common in midlife, although the risk remains as women get older. Following are 9 warning signs of cervical cancer:
Bleeding after intercourse
Bleeding after menopause
Bleeding between periods
Bleeding after douching
Having heavier or longer lasting menstrual periods than usual
Unusual vaginal discharge
Pain during sex
It is possible to have no symptoms with a precancerous or early cervical cancer. Always have any of these symptoms checked immediately.
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Remember to address this issue with your Primary Care Physician or Gynecologist.