As per the prediction from the American Cancer Society an estimated 14,480 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2021. Not long ago, cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of death of women in the US, however due to the sheer number of women taking the pap smear tests which is a screening for early signs of cervical cancer the number has gone down. In this article we will explore what you need to know about cervical cancer, the risk factors, the symptoms, what should be known about screening procedures and how cervical cancer is treated.
Since most cervical cancers are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), most women are at risk. This is because HPV is so common that most people contract it at least once in their lifetimes. There are no evident symptoms therefore there is no way to tell if you have it and in normal conditions it usually goes away on its own. It is also to be noted that HPV can be transferred from one person to the other during sex. Some HPV can cause genital or skin warts apart from cancer. There are certain other risks:
- Having HIV which is the human immunodeficiency virus which causes the weakening of the immune system
- Using birth control pills for long duration
- Having multiple sexual partners or having multiple kids
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer does not show any symptoms until it is in advanced stage where you may observe bleeding after sex. The only way to ensure the bleeding is related to the cancer and not any other condition is by seeing your doctor. You must also notice any vaginal discharge that is not normal for you. The costs of screening tests for cervical cancer can be exorbitant and may not lie in your budget. In this case you may Sign-up for Multimed-USA Hospital Discount Medical Plan if you’re currently living Miami where you may be charged at a discounted
What should be known about screening?
There are two screening tests that can help prevent cervical cancer and find it early:
- The Pap Test
- HPV Tests
Doctors use an instrument called speculum to collect samples from the cervix and surrounding areas. The collected samples are then sent to the laboratory for relevant testing. The test reports are generated in a couple days which the doctors read and carry out further diagnosis.
How is Cervical Cancer Treated?
Once the diagnosis is made, the doctor refers you to a gynaecologic oncologist- who is a specialist in cancers and women’s reproductive systems. They determine the advancement of cancer by understanding the size of the cancer and how fast it is spreading. This information guides the doctor in devising your treatment plan. The cancer can be treated using a number of ways which depend on the kind of cervical cancer and its stage. Most commonly chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapy are used to treat it.
Surgery: In this procedure, the cancerous tissues are removed.
Chemotherapy: In this procedure, drugs are used to kill the cancer or shrink it. This can be accomplished using pills or intravenous injections or sometimes both.
Radiation: This technique uses high energy rays- similar to x-rays that are used to kill cancer.
In order to reduce your risk of getting infected with the HPV, you can get vaccinated as follows:
- Vaccines can be given from the age of 9 and recommended for preteens 11-12 years old.
- It is also recommended for everyone through age 26, if they have not yet been vaccinated
- Generally, the vaccine is not recommended for anyone over the age of 26, however in some special cases as prescribed by the doctor upon a thorough examination of the person and understanding their risks of getting infected, a vaccine can be administered for some adults aged 27-45 years. HPV Vaccination may provide less benefit at this stage as most of the adults have been exposed to HPV by this age.
The vaccines can also be a considerable cost and can be availed at a discounted price if you have a hospital discount medical plan during your doctor visits. For cervical cancer, awareness and action are the best prevention.