Mountain Family Health Centers column: January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. According to the National Cervical Cancer Association, more than 13,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than 4,000 will die.
The fourth most common type of cancer for women worldwide, cervical cancer tends to occur during midlife. It is most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44. In women over 65, cancer typically occurs in women who were not receiving regular screening.
In the United States, most women who have abnormal cervical cell changes that progress to cervical cancer have never had a Pap test or have not had one in the previous three to five years.
Since cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer because it develops over time, Pap tests are an important way to catch the disease early. Deaths from cervical cancer in the United States continue to decline by approximately 2 percent a year, primarily due to the widespread use of the Pap test to detect cervical abnormalities and allow for early treatment.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is found in about 99 percent of cervical cancers and is estimated to be the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. (There are more than 100 different types of HPV; most are considered low-risk and do not cause cervical cancer.) High-risk HPV types may cause cervical cell abnormalities or cancer. By age 50 approximately 80 percent of women have been infected with some type of HPV.
Are you showing symptoms of cervical cancer?
According to the National Cervical Cancer Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms early on. Advanced cervical cancer, however, may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal for you. Symptoms can include pelvic pain not related to your menstrual cycle, as well as heavy or unusual discharge that may be watery, thick, and possibly have a foul odor. Some women experience increased urinary frequency or pain during urination.
If you have any of these signs, see your medical provider. They may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your medical provider.
Current and new patients can call Mountain Family Health Centers at 970-945-2840 to make an appointment with a provider to talk about cervical cancer screening tests, any abnormal gynecological symptoms, or other related questions.
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