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Cervical Health Awareness - Get Screened

01-10-2016

According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death among American women. Annual screenings, along with the development of the HPV vaccine, have played a major role in the decline of cervical cancer deaths by more than 50%.

Screening Tests

There are two types of tests used by healthcare professionals for cervical cancer screenings:

The Pap Test – This test can find early cervical cell changes and treat them before they become cancer, or detect cervical cancer early—when it’s easier to treat.

The HPV Test – The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test finds certain infections that can lead to cell changes and ultimately cervical cancer.

When Should I Get Screened?

Cervical Cancer is most often found in women between the ages of 20 and 50. However, more than 15% of cases of cervical cancer are found in women over the age of 65; most often in women who were not previously being screened for cervical cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women should begin cervical cancer screening at the age of 21. Newly revised guidelines recommend that women between the ages of 21 and 29 have a Pap test every 3 years and should not be tested for HPV unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result. To see a detailed list of the ACS recommendations, you can visit their website.

Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Because women with early cervical cancers and pre-cancers usually have no symptoms, regular screenings by a healthcare professional are important. Symptoms often do not begin until a pre-cancer becomes a true invasive cancer and spreads into nearby tissue. When this happens, common symptoms include:

It’s important to keep in mind that these signs and symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, such as an infection. Being screened regularly can help you monitor your cervical health, and receive treatment right away if needed.

Screening Makes All the Difference

According to the American Cancer Society, if detected early, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable cancers. In the United States, the cervical cancer death rate declined by more than 50% over the last 30 years. This is thought to be mainly due to the effectiveness of Pap test screening.

Screening tests are the best option for detecting cervical cancer at an early stage, when successful treatment is likely. Screening tests also detect abnormal cell changes, so they can be treated, before they turn into cervical cancer.

If you haven’t been screened for cervical cancer, or you’re up for your annual appointment, don’t delay! Screening for cervical cancer saves lives, so contact your healthcare provider today.