5 things to know about cervical health

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here are the top five things to know about the disease, including who is at risk and how to prevent it.

 

  1. The CDC states that cervical cancer is the most preventable type of female cancer. When found in the precancerous stage, cervical cancer is 100 percent curable with proper treatment and follow up.
  2. Education, vaccination and regular screenings are the best ways to prevent and diagnose cervical cancer. The Pap test (or Pap smear) is the main screening test for the detection of precancerous cells of the cervix as well as for early diagnosis of cervical cancer.
  3. Cervical cancer occurs most often in women ages 35-44. It is recommended that women start getting regular Pap tests at age 21; most women ages 21 to 65 should continue to be tested regularly as directed by their physician.
  4. Risk factors for cervical cancer include HPV, age, smoking, HIV or a weakened immune system, long-term use of birth control pills (five years or more), being overweight and giving birth to three or more children.
  5. Most cervical cancer cases are caused by an HPV infection. Usually HPV will go away on its own. However, chronic infection by a high-risk HPV can cause cervical cancer. Two HPV vaccines have been developed. Today, women age 30 or older can get the HPV test along with their Pap test to see if they have HPV.

 

Cervical cancer typically has no symptoms. That’s why regular cervical cancer screenings are key to prevention.

 

If you are concerned about your cervical health, please talk to your primary care physician about scheduling your well woman exam today. We also recommend downloading our free preventive care checklist for women 18 years and older.