One of the best things you can do for yourself in the new year is to ditch generic new year resolutions and pledge to keep tabs on your health and wellness through regular visits to The Woman’s Clinic. The best way to start your year off right is is to pay attention to and educate yourself on resources for Cervical Health Awareness Month.
What Is Cervical Cancer And How Is It Diagnosed?
Cervical cancer develops in the the lining of the bottom area of the uterus, which is called the cervix. Cervical cancer, unlike some other forms, can actually be detected in many patients before it even mutates into cancer. Pre-cancerous cells can be detected through regular pap smears, then monitored and treated if needed.
The American Cancer Society recommends a Pap test every three years, beginning at age 21. There are circumstances where that recommendation shifts to yearly for many women. It is important to discuss your personal screening schedule with your TWC physician. If you do have an irregular pap, you should have a follow up test done within the next six to 12 months to determine if anything has changed. Cervical cancer screening is crucial, as it is one of the most successfully treated cancers if it’s found early. In fact, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50% during the last 30 years, likely due to these advanced screening tools. After age 30 and through age 65, you should get tested once every five years, as long as you’re not a high risk patient. Your doctor can evaluate your individual health needs to determine if you should have screening done more frequently.
Is There Any Way To Prevent Cervical Cancer?
While all cancers have a number of risk factors that make developing them more likely, cervical cancer is different in the sense that there are certain things you can do to lower your risk, outside of a healthy lifestyle and healthy diet. One of the main culprits of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV is a group of viruses that generally affects men and women in their genitals, and can be spread by contact through oral sex, intercourse, or even just intimate contact. In some cases, HPV comes and goes without treatment or health issues, but in other cases it can cause various forms of cancer, including cervical cancer. HPV doesn’t automatically mean you’ll develop cancer, and even if you do, it could take years for it to form. It also tends to take some time for symptoms to develop, which means that people who have cervical cancer might not show symptoms until the disease is further developed. There are many precautions you can take against HPV, but one of the most effective methods to fight it is the HPV vaccine, which can be given to both boys and girls as young as 11 or 12 years old. Additionally, you should practice safe sex and use protection.
Cervical Health Awareness Month
While you should always be thinking of your reproductive health, we celebrate Cervical Health Awareness Month in January. The American Cancer Society has a host of resources to help you fully understand the disease, as does the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. Take the time to read through the available materials, share info on social media, and try to understand your individual circumstances and how you can work with your doctor to make sure you stay healthy. While these things are all helpful, the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with The Woman’s Clinic today. Start your new year off right and schedule your yearly exam!