Friday, December 2, 2016

Everything You Need to Know About Cervical Cancer

The words "cervical cancer" written across a pink banner.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Ladies, if you’re behind in getting your Pap smear, you need to schedule an appointment ASAP. Cervical cancer is no joke, and can become fatal if left untreated. The good news is that cervical cancer is 100% treatable if detected early.

Did you know that at one point in history, cervical cancer was one of the leading causes of death for American women? Thanks to the Pap test, the cervical cancer fatality rate has decreased by more than 50%.
 
Womenshealth.gov recommends women ages 21-29 get a Pap test done every three years. Women ages 30-64 only need to get one done every five years. It’s a simple enough procedure that takes about 15 minutes or so, and it’s well worth it because it can save your life.

Now, according to the National Cancer Institute, the average age of women diagnosed with cervical cancer is 49. It takes about 10-15 years for the pre-cancerous cells to develop into full-blown cancer, which is why it’s so important to get tested while you’re young.

Should you get an abnormal Pap smear result, keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have cancer. There are a variety of different reasons why you can get an abnormal test result. However, if you do get an abnormal result, your doctor will likely want you to come in for a colposcopy.

A colposcopy is a procedure in which your OBGYN examines your cervix underneath a microscope. Should your doctor see any abnormal tissue, she/he will take what’s known as a biopsy. A biopsy is a small sample of tissue that is removed from the cervix. The biopsy will then be sent to the lab where the tissue sample can be examined in more detail.

If you think you may already have cervical cancer, here are some common signs and symptoms to watch out for:
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Unusual vaginal discharge (a change in color or texture)
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (such as after sex, after menopause, or between periods) 
If you have any of the above symptoms, please call your doctor immediately. And please help get the word out by sharing this post.


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