What you need to know about treating cervical cancer. Now ranking 14th, cervical cancer was once one of the most common cancers affecting U.S. women. This rate has declined sharply with the introduction of the Pap test, a screening procedure that can find changes in the cervix before the cancer develops. The test can also help to find cervical cancer at an early stage. Several risk factors increase a woman’s chance of developing cervical cancer. The most important risk factor is infection caused by HPV, or human papillomavirus. Other risk factors include smoking, immunosuppression, chlamydia infection and being overweight. Treatment of cervical cancer depends on:
- Stage of the cancer
- Size and shape of the tumor
- A woman’s age and general health
- A woman’s desire to have children
Women’s Health: Cervical Cancer Screenings Have you been screened for cervical cancer? No matter what your age, you should consult with your doctor on whether you are due for a cervical cancer screening. Two Types of Cervical Cancer Screenings Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for pre-cancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.
- If you are getting a Pap test, the cells will be checked to see if they look normal.
- If you are getting an HPV test, the cells will be tested for HPV.
- If you are 21 to 29 years old, You should start getting Pap tests at age 21. If your Pap test result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.
- If you are 30 to 65 years old, talk to your doctor about which testing option is right for you:
- A Pap test only. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.
- An HPV test only. This is called primary HPV testing. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
- An HPV test along with the Pap test. This is called co-testing. If both of your results are normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
- If you are older than 65, your doctor may tell you that you don’t need to be screened anymore if,
- You have had normal screening test results for several years, or
- You have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions, like fibroids.
Women’s Health: Have you considered your cervical health? In women's health, cervical health, specifically cervical cancer, is an important topic in women’s healthcare. There are many ways as to how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and causes most cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV. Many people with HPV don’t know they are infected and each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. What can I do to combat HPV and Cervical Cancer?
- The HPV vaccine can help prevent HPV
- Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care
The most important thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer is to be screened regularly. Your women’s wellness exam will often include the Pap test (pap smear) and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test, which detects HPV, the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, are used to detect cervical cancer. Pap tests can find abnormal cells that may turn into cervical cancer. Removal of the abnormal cells prevents cervical cancer. Pap tests can also find cervical cancer early, when the chance of being cured is very high. In addition to the Pap test, the HPV test may be used for screening women who are 30 years old or older, or at any age for those who have unclear Pap test results. It also is used to provide more information when Pap test results are unclear for women aged 21 and older. Women should receive a Pap test starting within three years after becoming sexually active, or no later than age 21. If you are between 21 and 29 years old, it is important for you to continue getting a Pap test as directed by your doctor. Screening should be done every 2 to 3 years. At age 30, Pap and HPV test frequency can drop to every 5 years. This is called co-testing and should continue until age 65, according to the American Cancer Society. If you are older than 65 and have had a normal Pap test for several years, or if you had your cervix removed (for a non-cancerous condition, such as fibroids), your doctor may recommend discontinuing the Pap test. If you haven’t had your Pap test, it is important that you do so. Women need to be proactive in their own health care!