Cervical Cancer Prevention is simple and effective.
In light of National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to recognize the relationship between human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. Almost all cervical cancer cases are linked to infection with high-risk HPV, the most commonly transmitted STI. People with HPV almost never develop symptoms; however, they can still infect others through sexual contact. HPV infections can trigger harmful changes in the body that cause genital warts and cancer, namely cervical cancer in women, penile cancer in men, and anal cancer in both women and men.
How is HPV spread?
You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected. This makes it hard to know when you first became infected.
Preventative Measures You Can Take
Preventative measures you can take against HPV infection include getting the HPV vaccine, consistently using condoms, and regularly scheduling a Pap and/or HPV test. The American Cancer Society recommends women from 25 to 65 have a primary HPV test done every 5 years. Patients may request an HPV test with their Pap smear every 5 years or have a Pap smear every 3 years. A pap smear, or the pap test, is a procedure used to detect abnormal cells that could become tumorous. Identifying cervical cancer during the early stages of development may substantially improve the odds of recovery.
Each year, more than 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States. There was a point when this cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in American women. The disease has since become more preventable with the arrival of the HPV vaccine. With wider implementation of the Pap test the rate of deaths by cervical cancer have decreased significantly.
What symptoms are associated with Cervical Cancer?
Symptoms typically begin to appear during the early stages of cervical cancer. Please keep in mind that most women do not experience any precancerous signs, so it is important to take preventative measures.
- Irregular bleeding, blood spots or light bleeding between periods
- Vaginal bleeding post-menopause
- Menstrual bleeding that is longer and heavier than usual
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Bleeding during sexual intercourse
- Persistent pelvic and/or back pain
To learn more about Cervical Cancer, please click here.
Can Cervical Cancer Be Found Early?
The best way to find cervical cancer early is to have regular screening tests. The tests for cervical cancer screening are the HPV test and the Pap test. These tests can be done alone or at the same time (called a co-test). Regular screening has been shown to prevent cervical cancers and save lives. The most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly, no matter which test you get.
Early detection greatly improves the chances of successful treatment of pre-cancers and cancer. Being aware of any signs and symptoms of cervical cancer can also help avoid delays in diagnosis.
To schedule a Pap test, call our office today and speak with a benefit specialist to discuss your benefits and schedule your first appointment. Contact Dr. Neera Bhatia, your San Antonio OB/GYN today at (210) 222-2694!2