Cervical cancer is a disease women can defeat. Women, who are most at risk include those who have had three children, smoke, have taken birth control pills for at least five years, engage in sex with multiple partners, have HIV or a weakened immune system, and are over 30 years of age. Endometrial (womb) cancer is the most common and vaginal cancer is considered rare. Approximately, 12,000 women in the United States are stricken by this disease on a yearly basis.
African American and Hispanic women have the highest risk in the fight to defeat cervical cancer. The American Cancer Society has created a true/false quiz to expand knowledge and promote women to make healthy decisions:
1). Women who have had a hysterectomy cannot get cervical cancer and do not need to be tested. The answer is false. Unless the cervix is removed, screening should continue.
2). HPV infection can be treated to help prevent cervical cancer. Due to the fact that there is no treatment for HPV, the answer is false. The cells causing the infection can be treated.
3). Cervical cancer usually does not cause symptoms right away. This statement is true as cancer often moves to the cells close by and changes become evident. Doctors must check for movement to the lymph nodes and possible traces to the lungs, liver, and bones.
4). The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer. It was estimated approximately two-thirds are caused by this infection making this a true statement. The body is able to rid itself of this infection unless it is a chronic condition.
5). Women need a pap smear every year. According to the American Cancer Society, women who are considered having risk factors should begin testing at age 21; otherwise, women need a pap every three years. Therefore, this is false. Frequent screening can be harmful and sometimes, results give false positives.
The recommendation is women between 21 and 29 should have a regular pap examination every three years. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 are encouraged to have a pap smear and HPV screening every five years or at least have the pap every three years. Those over 65, who have had a screening within the past 10 years should discontinue unless pre-cancer cells have been identified over the last 20 years.
6). Cervical cancer can often be prevented and this is true. If a woman has precancerous cells, they can change over a period of several years, which may lead to a cancerous condition. This condition can be detected by the pap and HPV tests. Additionally, there is an HPV vaccine, which is effective to prevent the infection, however, it is not for the treatment of an existing one.
Screening methods are designed to detect and treat abnormal cells. The dilemma is that women will often talk to a family member, friend, or attempt to manage symptoms rather than seek the advice and care of a doctor. Women, who were interviewed offered information regarding their thoughts on the symptoms, causes, and steps taken for treatment. The responses for the cause of cervical cancer included the contraceptive pill, menopause, diet, or a pre-existing condition of fibroids.
Knowledge about the stages of cervical cancer can be helpful information. Cancerous cells found on the surface of the cervix would be called Stage 0. When the cells have localized on the cervix, it is Stage I. Stage II is when those cells have traveled to the upper part of the vagina. Tumors in the lower vagina signal Stage III. Stage IV indicates the cancer cells have spread to the bladder and other sites within the body.
Cervical cancer is a disease women can defeat. Although it is treatable and preventable, it claims 7,500 deaths per year. Early detection and treatment of symptoms are essential to the defeat and lower the number of women impacted by this disease.
By Marie A. Wakefield
Edited by Maurice Cassidy
Tech Times – Cervical Cancer Signs, Symptoms, Treatments: Everything You Should Know About This Highly Preventable Disease
The Washington Post – How Women Could Know They Have Cervical Cancer Before They Even Go to the Doctor
American Cancer Society – Take the Cancer Quiz
Photo by Christiana Care’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Photo by the Pan American Health Organization’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License