Cervical Cancer Awareness
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and Premier Patient Housing would like to spread awareness by sharing vital information about this preventable cancer. Did you know that each year, over 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States? Thanks to regular screening, this cancer has seen a reduction in numbers over the last several years. Please help us continue this trend by spreading awareness today!
Cervical cancer is caused primarily by HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually transmitted disease. HPV can be transmitted through vaginal or anal sex. It is important to note that there are over 100 types, most of which do not cause cancer. If you are diagnosed with HPV, generally, 90 percent of cases can be resolved. The two most common forms that are considered high-risk for cancer are HPV-16 and HPV-18. Women at high risk of developing cervical cancer include women who smoke cigarettes, use birth control for more than 5 years, have HIV, have given birth to more than 3 children, and have had numerous sexual partners. If a woman is infected with HPV and abnormal cells develop, these cells typically form in the lining of the cervix. These cells can develop into cancer if not caught early.
Early on, cervical cancer causes very few symptoms. It can take months or years for symptoms to develop or for the HPV to be detected in most cases. Symptoms in advanced stages include:
– Pelvic pain (unrelated to the menstrual cycle)
– Heavy discharge
– Abnormal bleeding (most commonly after intercourse)
– Abnormal Odor
– Pain during sexual intercourse
To prevent cervical cancer, early detection is key. There two tests that are used to diagnose cervical cancer. The first is a pap smear. It is recommended to begin screening with this test as early as 21 years old. The second test focuses on detecting HPV (human papillomavirus). For both methods, cells are collected and then tested at a laboratory. Generally, if tests do return as normal, further testing is not recommended for another 5 years. Don’t wait to be tested. If patients feel that they may be at high-risk for HPV, it is important to talk to a gynecologist or a PCP (primary care provider) to formulate a testing frequency plan.
To prevent HPV, there is a vaccine for kids and young adults. Currently, there are two vaccines available for distribution. The first, called Gardasil, is used in both males and females, ages nine to 26. This vaccine can protect against 9 HPV cancer-causing types. These include HPV-6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. The next vaccine is called Cervarix. Kids ages 11 to 12 receive a three-dose series to protect against HPV. This vaccination can protect against HPV-16 and 18. It is recommended for young women under the age of 26 and young men under 21 to get vaccinated. Talk to a doctor to receive the most up to date information about vaccination and to determine which vaccine is the best fit for your child or young adult.
Lastly, we at Premier Patient Housing hope this information can help spread awareness to all women and their families. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer and will be traveling to Houston for treatment, do not hesitate to check out our apartment units. We consider everyone an extension of our own family and bring the same love and comfort to our units. Take a moment to view them today!