This is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to discuss cervical cancer. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It used to be one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in American women, but thankfully, more women are being screened for the disease, which has helped drive the numbers lower. But it still exists, and early diagnosis is key. Here now, are five things to know about cervical cancer, courtesy of the affordable clinics that make up the UrgentMED network.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. That’s also the part of a woman’s body in which a baby grows during pregnancy.
According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, each year, nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Research also shows that most women are diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 44, while about 15% of cervical cancers hit women over age 55. Few women under the age of 20 are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
What You Need to Know
Cervical Cancer is Connected to a Sexually Transmitted Infection
Cervical cancer is mostly caused by a virus called human papillomavirus or HPV, which is most commonly spread through vaginal or anal sex. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). In most cases (about 9 out of 10), HPV goes away on its own within 2-years and doesn’t cause any health issues, but sometimes it lingers, leading to cancers and other diseases.
Cervical Cancer Symptoms Are Not Present Right Away
You may have early cervical cancer and may not even know it. That’s because it’s a slow-growing cancer and its signs and symptoms don’t show up right away. But as the cancer spreads and becomes more advanced, the signs and symptoms become more evident. They include:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods, following a pelvic examination
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Increased vaginal discharge that may have a foul order
- Unexplained, persistent pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse
Early Detection is Key
Cervical cancer can be detected with regular Pap tests or Pap smear which we offer here at UrgentMed. Detecting cancer earlier increases the patient’s chance for proper treatment. If you have symptoms, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor, or stop by an UrgentMED center for testing.
Cervical Cancer Can Be Treated
Treatments for cervical cancer include surgery (which is the main treatment), targeted therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination. You and your doctor will discuss the best approach for you, depending on the size of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Your doctor will also take into consideration your age, along with other factors.
Cervical Cancer Is Almost Totally Preventable
This all points to the need for even more preventative measures. You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection: the HPC vaccine, which is safe and effective. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all children 11 or 12 years old, should get two shots, six to twelve months apart. The CDC also makes recommendations for all age ranges.
Visit Us to Get on a Healthy Track
Hopefully, this cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about cervical cancer. Be sure and visit an UrgentMED to get an HPC vaccine and other vaccinations, where you can also pick up prescribed and non-prescribed medications and medical supplies.The affordable clinics that make up the UrgentMED network provide fast and affordable emergency care, and with 15 locations, we’re conveniently located near you. UrgentMED is the largest comprehensive urgent care network in Southern California. We look forward to helping you stay on a healthy track.