Cervical Cancer awareness is important because cervical cancer is a preventable disease of the uterus, if abnormalities are detected early. The cervix is the lower narrowed portion of the uterus, and it is in the uterus that babies grow and develop prior to birth. This may sound familiar, but early detection does save lives. Most women have no symptoms of the disease early on. Early detection can also prolong the reproductive life of women.
According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cervical cancer rates are on the decline because of increased public awareness, and increased cervical screening programs. For more detailed information about cervical cancer, choose one of the following two sites: Medline Plus or Cancer Institute.
What are the symptoms and how would I know if I had cervical cancer?
There may be no symptoms very early on. But, early symptoms may include vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, pain with sexual intercourse, or vaginal odor. As the cancer spreads to deeper uterine tissues and adjacent organs, pelvic pain may occur independent of sexual activity, vaginal bleeding may increase, and unilateral leg swelling can occur. For more information visit the site of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer.
What are risk factors for cervical cancer?
The CDC lists the following:
Infection with certain types of Human papillomavirus (HPV),
Yes. There is a vaccine that targets certain types of HPV known to be associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer. For additional information about the vaccine, visit this page about CDC Vaccines.
How do you screen for cervical cancer?
The cervix is screened by a procedure known as a Papanicolaou (Pap) Smear. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports 55 million Pap smears are done each year, and about 3.5 million or 6% are abnormal. The NCI answers the most frequently asked questions at the National Cancer Institute.
Are there programs for low income and uninsured women?
Yes, the National Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). Your East Central Health District participates in the Georgia Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Program. These programs target low-income uninsured or underserved women, and provide them the opportunity for breast and cervical cancer screening, in addition to diagnostic services. Click here for more information about NBCCEDP.
Surgery, radiation, or cancer fighting medications (chemotherapy); The American Cancer Society provides more detailed information.
What about Georgia?
In January 2005, the Georgia Department of Human Resources reported that 90 percent of Georgian women, greater than age 18, are being screened for cervical cancer. Of the 10 percent, or 343,000 women are not being screened; roughly 120 are expected to die.
One hundred-twenty women may not seem high, until it is your family or friend that has been affected. Please ask all those special ladies in your life if they have been screened, share this and other cervical cancer information with them. Who knows, you may be the one that saves their life.
Call toll-free: 1-877-4SISTER (1-877-474-7837) Deaf/Hard of Hearing: 1-866-TTY-4SIS (1-866-899-4747)
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