Did you know that, sadly, many women lose their battle with cervical cancer when it is one of the most highly preventable diseases? The main reason is that at the early stage of developing cervical cancer, there are no noticeable symptoms. Unfortunately, once the cancer has progressed, it does so aggressively and the symptoms are severe.
Cervical cancer typically occurs in people over the age of 30. The disease is caused mostly by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and sometimes by HIV and AIDs, which are conditions that may compromise your immunity. The most recent breakthrough in preventing cervical cancer is the HPV vaccine which is administered to people in their early teens to those in their mid-twenties. In individuals older than that the vaccine is less effective. The most important thing is to get screened regularly. And since HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, both males and females must get vaccinated.
For those diagnosed with cervical cancer treatment is administered on a case-by-case basis. In general,for cancers that are limited to the lining of the cervix, or preinvasive cancers, the most common therapies may include the following: Heat (electrocoagulation) or cold (cryotherapy) treatment to destroy the cancerous cells, lasers, and in some cases surgery. For cancers that have spread, there are 3 different surgical procedures; Subtotal hysterectomy, total hysterectomy, or a radical trachelectomy. Typically the surgery is followed by chemotherapy, and/or radiation. While some patients opt for a hysterectomy others are treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
Here’s the good news. As with many diseases, early detection is the best course of prevention. According to MedStar Health, early detection of the cancer in patients via a pap smear, examination, and treatment of preinvasive cancer, has a 100% survival rate.
Here are 5 ways that you can protect yourself from cervical cancer
- HPV vaccination: The HPV vaccine can protect against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cervical cancer.
- Regular Pap tests: Pap tests, also called Pap smears, can detect abnormal cells in the cervix before they turn into cancer.
- Regular pelvic exams: A healthcare provider can perform a pelvic exam to check for any abnormalities in the cervix, ovaries, and other reproductive organs.
- Practicing safe sex: Using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners can reduce the risk of HPV infection.
- Quit smoking and avoid alcohol consumption.