Almost 13,000 women are diagnosed each year with cervical cancer. While that is a sobering statistic, the good news is that this type of cancer is almost always preventable.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and to shed light on the issue, we’ve gathered the top ways to protect yourself against cervical cancer and stay healthy.
Get Your Regular Exams on Time
Getting the proper exams on a regular basis is crucial for early detection, because cervical cancer is often symptomless. The earlier it is found, the more efficiently your doctor can treat you, which reduces your risk of becoming another statistic.
One such screening is the Pap smear, which checks for cervical cancer. While the guidelines have recently changed as to the frequency of Pap smears based on age, what hasn’t changed is the recommendation to visit the gynecologist annually. Your doctor will tell you what screenings are needed based on your age and health history, and could recommend vaccines or other treatment options based on screening results.
Know Your Risk Factors
The major risks of developing cervical cancer include:
- HPV infection
- Immune system deficiencies
- Race and ethnicity
- Oral contraceptives
While some factors such as race and ethnicity cannot be controlled, knowing whether you are at a higher risk can help you control other factors. Cervical cancer is more prevalent among black, Hispanic and American Indian women, and primarily affects women in their 30s. If you fall into any of these categories, take caution when opting to smoke and discuss the use of oral contraceptives with your doctor.
So you’ve seen your doctor and you know what puts you at risk. Now what?
Take control of your health. You don’t have to wait for an annual exam or a health scare to be aware of an issue that may potentially affect you or someone you love. Staying updated on health topics is easier than you might think. A wealth of resources are available to those concerned with specific issues.
Subscribing to lists that provide you with information can help you stay on top of changes to guidelines, raise awareness about issues you haven’t considered, and helps you stay engaged in the conversations about topics important to you. The National Cervical Cancer Coalition is a nonprofit that serves as a resource for women battling cervical cancer and HPV. The American Cancer Society and the CDC provide the latest research and information.
Fisher-Titus offers a robust array of women’s health services. With the latest imaging technology and treatment options, our women’s health professionals are equipped to answer your questions and help you stay healthy. To make an appointment, contact us today.