January is a special month: It’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Before the PAP smear was invented #GYNEGirls, cervical cancer was the most common gynecologic cancer in the world. We have made some improvement; now cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women worldwide.
There are 490,000 estimated new cases that occur each year worldwide. But unfortunately 290,000 of women will die from this disease. In the United States, cervical cancer is the 7th most common cancer among women. There are about 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer each year AND about 4,000 women will die each year. These stats make me sad #GYNEGirls. The worst part is that the average age of diagnosis is only 42 years old. That is too young to worry about dying. Read below to learn six things that you definitely need to know about cervical cancer. Keep reading!
1. You can get cervical cancer from an STD. Have you heard of the human papilloma virus (HPV)? HPV is the most common STD. #GYNEGirls- please have safe sex, i.e. use condoms always!
2. The HPV vaccine protects you against cervical cancer.There are two types of vaccines on the market- Gardasil and Cervirax. Gardasil is for both #GYNEGirls and #GENTs, while Cervirax is only for #GYNEGirls.
3. A PAP smear is STILL our best screening tool. Screening just means a way to see if you are at risk. Our guidelines have changed drastically #GYNEGirls. Ladies ages 21-29 years old get a PAP smear every 3 years and women ages 30-65 years old get a PAP Smear every 3-5 years. If you are over 65 years old, you don’t need them anymore. Check out my post called PAP Smear Problems for a full update.
4. A colposcopy is done if your PAP smear is abnormal. Colposcopy is a fancy word for looking at your cervix through a long microscope; it’s a more definite way to see if you have cervical cancer especially if a biopsy (piece) of the cervix was done. Let me just say this: Just because you have to have a “Colpo” DOESN’T mean you have cancer. RELAX!
5. Early stage cervical cancer has no symptoms. Late stage symptoms include vaginal bleeding after sex, vaginal discharge and back pain. That’s why it’s so important to get your PAP smear.
6. Having sex at an early age, smoking cigarettes, or having multiple sexual partners increases your risk of getting cervical cancer. Talk to your daughters.
The treatment of cervical cancer ranges from a LEEP (removing part of the cervix), radical hysterectomy (removing the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, surrounding ligaments and lymph nodes, and the upper vagina) or chemotherapy/radiation. Basically #GYNEGirls, #Preggos, & #GENTs cervical cancer is PREVENTABLE. You need to keep up with your appointments to get your PAP smear, get vaccinated against HPV, use condoms always, and stop smoking. I hope you learned something. Share this post with a friend. Who knows you may save a life! Until next time…