January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Because of the efforts of the medical community, cancer organizations and cervical cancer survivors, more women are being screened. Growing numbers of people are aware of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. And as a result, great strides have been made in reducing the number of cervical cancer cases.
Why cervical health awareness matters
According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. But it is now considered the “easiest” female cancer to prevent—since regular Pap tests, HPV vaccines and HPV testing have made preventing cervical cancer more possible than ever.
Optimal cervical health starts with a screening
Annual well-woman exams that include Pap tests are vital to the early detection of cervical cancer.
Pap tests can detect cell changes to the cervix caused by HPV 16 and 18 — the types that cause cervical cancer. For women age 30 and over, an HPV test may be recommended along with a Pap. Pap tests can also find cervical cancer early — when it’s small and has not spread. Another way to help prevent cervical cancer is to have children vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV).
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
Early cervical cancers and pre-cancers usually show no symptoms. The signs often don’t manifest until the cancer becomes invasive and grows into nearby tissue. When this happens, the most common symptoms are:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding: This includes bleeding after vaginal sex, bleeding after menopause, bleeding and spotting between periods, and having (menstrual) periods that are longer or heavier than usual.
- Unusual discharge from the vagina: The discharge may contain some blood and may occur between your periods or after menopause.
- Advanced symptoms: Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer can include back or pelvic pain, difficulty urinating or defecating, swelling of one or both legs, fatigue and weight loss.
Cancer care excellence, here in East Texas
A cancer diagnosis changes everything. It can alter your mood, your attitude toward others and your outlook on life itself. That’s why there’s HOPE. At HOPE Cancer Center of East Texas, we provide a complete array of advanced cancer care. And just as important, we support you with genuine compassion and dedication to your unique needs.
When you meet our team of caring, board-certified cancer physicians, you can be confident that every resource, and every ounce of energy will be focused on your care. Call us at 903.592.6152 today, or request an appointment using our easy online form.