January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

Posted on January 10, 2019 by kerri
How much do you know about cervical health? If the answer is “not much”, you’re not alone. The major medical problem affecting the cervix, a part of the female reproductive system, is cervical cancer. Most women who develop cervical cancer develop it as a result of a sexually transmitted virus called HPV, the human papilloma virus. [1] HPV causes changes in the cells of the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. The good news about cervical cancer is it is both easily detectable and preventable.
teal and white cervical cancer awareness month ribbon reading fight, support and hope.
Preventing HPV
The main way to prevent cervical cancer is to prevent yourself from contracting HPV.  The only way to completely prevent HPV infection is to avoid genital sexual contact with another person. [1] The Canadian Cancer Society states that anyone who has had sex is at risk for HPV. [1] Talking to partners about any sexually transmitted infections [STIs] is important to take precautions against contracting STIs. [1] As with all STIs, using a condom or other barrier methods can help prevent against STIs, including HPV. [1]
There is also a vaccine that can prevent HPV. This vaccine is now often given to girls around age 12, and is most commonly given to young adult women before age 26.
As well, being smoke free is an important contributor to decreasing risk of all cancers. [1]
Get Screened for Cervical Cancer
With regular screening after becoming sexually active, women can usually catch changes in cervical cancer cells early. Per the National Cervical Cancer Coalition [NCCC], the following are the currently recommended methods of screening for cervical cancer and HPV [2]:
  • Beginning at age 21, women should have their first pap test, [2] in which a scraping of cervical cells is taken and analyzed for abnormalities.
  • At age 30, there are options for screening including: [2]
    • A pap test alone every 3 years
    • A pap test and HPV test every 5 years
    • An HPV test alone, every 5 years.
There are many causes of abnormal pap tests, and many—including cervical cancer caught early—can be treated easily. [3]
Cervical cancer is “one of the most preventable cancers today”, per the NCCC, yet 13,000 American women are diagnosed with the disease each year [2]. Because cellular changes occur years before cervical cancer develops, regular screening is important so steps can be taken to prevent cancer from developing. [2]
For cervical cancer survivors
If you are diagnosed with more advanced cervical cancer, wearing cancer medical ID jewelry can be important to your care, especially if you are in a clinical trial; depending on treatments used, you may also wish to continue wearing medical jewelry after your treatment is completed. Speak with your doctor to see what they recommend in your individual case.

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