Understanding Cervical Cancer

by | January 12th, 2024 | News

Cervical cancer is a disease in which cells in the cervix become abnormal and divide without control, forming a mass called a tumor. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and follow-up. It is also highly curable when found and treated early.

One of the leading causes of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that is passed from person to person through intimate contact. Everyone should consider receiving the HPV vaccine to protect themselves from this virus and reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer later in life. The vaccine is recommended for 11 and 12-year-olds. HPV vaccines can be given starting at age 9. Everyone through age 26 should get the HPV vaccine if they are not fully vaccinated. In addition to having HPV, these things also can increase your risk of cervical cancer: smoking, having HIV or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems, using birth control for five years or longer, and having given birth to three or more children.

Regular check-ups, known as Pap smears or Pap tests, are crucial for detecting cervical cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable. During a Pap smear, a doctor collects a small sample of cells from the cervix to check for abnormalities. If abnormalities are found, further tests and treatment can be done to prevent the development of cervical cancer. For women ages 21-65, it is important to get a Pap test every three years or as directed by your doctor. Women should schedule regular check-ups with their healthcare providers to monitor their cervical health and take proactive steps in preventing cervical cancer.

Educating ourselves and others about cervical cancer empowers us to make informed decisions about our health. Lifestyle choices, such as getting vaccinated for HPV and attending regular check-ups, play an essential role in reducing the risk of cervical cancer.