If you knew there was a simple way to reduce your risk of having cervical cancer, which was at one time one of the most common causes of cancer death in women, would you start to prioritize it in your regular healthcare routine? Thankfully, there is a simple solution. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to start talking about how we can prevent and treat this disease.
The easiest form of cervical cancer detection comes in two different tests – Pap tests and HPV tests. Pap tests detect abnormal cells so they can be treated before they develop into cancerous cells, making early treatment much easier. HPV tests look for human papilloma virus, which is an indication of a higher risk of developing cervical cancer. Luckily, these tests are pretty simple and relatively painless. They can be done at routine gynecological exams and should begin at the age of 21. The American Cancer Society recently changed their recommendation to get Pap tests, and it is now recommended once every three years instead of annually for low risk women. If you are concerned that you may be in a higher risk category, speak to your physician at The Woman’s Clinic and determine what the best testing schedule would be for your personal needs.
Aside from getting routine tests, keeping tabs on your health, and reporting any abnormalities to your doctor, what is a good way you can start the discussion about cervical cancer amongst family and friends? First, learn if you have a family history of the disease and make sure you discuss it with your doctor. Secondly, take part in the National Cervical Cancer Coalition’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Find out if there’s a chapter near you that is hosting events or educational opportunities. You can also visit their website for a host of content including videos, downloadable fact sheets, social media content, and more information about the disease and available treatments. Make sure you have scheduled your yearly exam at The Woman’s Clinic so you can stay on top of the tests for cervical cancer. Remember, you can schedule your appointment at our Jackson or Madison office.