Every year, approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is almost always preventable and when diagnosed early, it is nearly 100 percent curable. January is the perfect time to talk to the women in your life about getting screened, but the conversation shouldn’t end there. Learn more about cervical cancer awareness and become an advocate because protecting the women in your life should be happening all year long!
Who’s at risk?
All women are at risk for cervical cancer, but certain behaviors can increase your risk. You have a higher risk if you:
- Were infected with HPV
- Had a high number of sexual partners
- Had many full-term pregnancies
- Used oral contraceptives
- Have infrequent Pap tests and cervical exams
- Have a diet low in fruits and vegetables
How can I prevent cervical cancer?
There are two tests and one vaccine that are available to help prevent and diagnose cervical cancer. The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for cell changes on the cervix, which can be treated to prevent cervical cancer. The test can also detect cervical cancer early, when treatment is most successful. The HPV test looks for the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus, which is the main cause of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine can prevent girls and women against the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Many women with pre-cancers or early stage cervical cancer will not have symptoms. In most cases, symptoms will not begin until the pre-cancer develops into an invasive cancer and affects nearby tissues. Click here to learn more about the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer.
This is not an issue that should be taken lightly. All women should know how to protect themselves. Protect the women in your life by starting up a conversation about getting screened.
Go to http://www.nccc-online.org to learn more about getting involved and spread the word about cervical cancer.
Sources: CDC, American Cancer Society.
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