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Cervical Health Awareness Month: Understanding Cervical Cancer and How to Protect Yourself

Cervical Health Awareness Month is observed every January to raise awareness about cervical cancer and the importance of early detection and prevention. According to the American Cancer Society, about 14,480 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed and approximately 4,290 women will die from the disease in 2022 in the United States alone. However, cervical cancer is highly preventable and treatable if caught early. In this article, we will explain the key facts about cervical cancer and provide tips on how to protect yourself.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells lining the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. HPV can cause changes in the cells of the cervix that can lead to cancer if left untreated.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

In the early stages, cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms. As the cancer grows, women may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause. Other symptoms may include pelvic pain or pain during sex.

Who is at risk for cervical cancer?

Women of all ages are at risk for cervical cancer, but it most commonly affects women between the ages of 30 and 50. Other risk factors include:

  • HPV infection
  • Smoking
  • Weakened immune system
  • Long-term use of birth control pills
  • Having many sexual partners

How can cervical cancer be prevented?

The most effective way to prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 12, but can also be given up to age 26. In addition, regular cervical cancer screening, including Pap tests and HPV tests, can detect abnormal cells before they become cancerous. Women should discuss their screening schedule with their healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cervical Health Awareness Month:

Q: What is the purpose of Cervical Health Awareness Month?

A: The purpose of Cervical Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness about cervical cancer and encourage women to get screened for the disease.

Q: Who should get the HPV vaccine?

A: The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 12, but can also be given up to age 26.

Q: What is a Pap test?

A: A Pap test, also known as a Pap smear, is a screening test for cervical cancer. During a Pap test, cells are collected from the cervix and examined for abnormalities.

Q: What is an HPV test?

A: An HPV test is a screening test for the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is often done in conjunction with a Pap test.

In conclusion, Cervical Health Awareness Month is an important opportunity to educate women about cervical cancer and encourage them to take steps to protect their health. By getting vaccinated against HPV and getting regular cervical cancer screenings, women can reduce their risk of developing this highly preventable and treatable disease. If you have any concerns about your cervical health, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.

Reference

American Cancer Society

Mayo Clinic

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society. (2022). Cervical Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

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