Understanding Cervical Cancer and HPV
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provides information and advice about cervical cancer including how to detect it, ways to reduce risks, and insights into how the oncology practice may treat the disease, should it be detected.
The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 14,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States annually, making the disease one to be aware, especially for women who may have increased risks for cervical cancer.
What is Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cancer cells form in the cervix or the lower part of a uterus. While it was once a leading cause of cancer death for women, the number of cases has decreased dramatically due to improved testing, earlier detection and advanced forms of treatment.
More About HPV
Increased risk factors for cervical cancer for women include Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs), which are infections often transmitted sexually or through other skin-to-skin contact. Additional risk factors include age, with that increased risk for women over the age of 40, overweight, weakened immune system, smoking and birth control use for more than five years may increase the risk of cervical cancer
Comprehensive Cancer Centers urges women to stay vigilant and be aware of potential signs and symptoms. While early changes in the cervix may not cause pain or other symptoms, when the disease gets worse, women may notice abnormal vaginal bleeding, increased vaginal discharge, as well as pelvic pain and pain during intercourse. Women who experience any of these symptoms are urged to immediately consult their gynecologists or primary care provider, who may recommend additional tests.
Screening Options for Cervical Cancer
When it comes to screenings, women benefit from a Pap test (Pap smear), which is done in a physician’s office or clinic as part of a pelvic exam. Doctors recommend that women have Pap smears at least once every three years, beginning three years after first intercourse or age 21, whichever comes first. If the results from a Pap smear uncover precancerous cells or cancer of the cervix, doctors may recommend additional testing to confirm diagnosis including a biopsy or removal of tissue to look for precancerous or cancer cells, as well as a test using a colposcopy to examine the cervix in greater detail.
As noted before with the risks of HPV, women are recommended to be tested by a HPV test, which can be done at same time a Pap smear is conducted. A Pap smear, along with an HPV test (called co-testing), is the optimal way to detect early cervical cancers or pre-cancers in women over the age of 30. Additionally, the HPV vaccination helps reduces the risk of cancer as it prevents infection from HPV.
Should cancer be found in the cervix, there are treatment options available at Comprehensive Cancer Centers including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and clinical research trials, if eligible. Each method may be used alone, or in combination, depending on what your oncologist determines as the most effective course of treatment.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers knows it’s important to control any lifestyle factors you can to avoid your cancer risk, including avoiding smoking, practicing safe sex and controlling weight. Combine smart lifestyle choices with regular gynecological screenings and vaccinations, and you can take a proactive approach to cancer and other health risks.”
Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for cervical cancer. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, call 702-952-3350.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.