When was the last time you had a Pap Smear?
Regular Pap smear testing is vital in preventing and diagnosing the Cervical Cancer if you don’t get one you will never know if your chances of getting cervical cancer.
Approximately 4,200 women die from cervical cancer each year. You already know that the research is going to show that African-American women who are diagnosed are twice as likely to die as their Caucasian peers. These statistics are often attributed to lack of regular Pap smear screenings
However it does not have to be that way. Again early screenings is the key for prevention and detection.
Most cervical cancer cases are caused by the HPV virus or the human papilloma virus. HPV, a very common sexually transmitted infection, is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. “There are no symptoms for HPV and early cervical cancer is often asymptomatic,” says Dr. Estelle Whitney, a physician at Christiana Care Health Systems in Delaware. “So it’s important for women to get regular Pap smears.” January is cervical health awareness month, and Felder stresses that routine screenings such as the Pap smear test make cervical cancer one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
Dr. Peter Grossman, an Augusta, Ga.-based obstetrician-gynecologist echoes that fact with other positive points about prevention and treatment.
“Well, there are four great things we know about cervical cancer: We have a precursor in cervical dysplasia (abnormal changes in the cells on the cervix surface); We know the cause, which is HPV; We have a great screening test with the Pap smear; and it takes a long time to develop, about 10 to 20 years from the initial exposure to HPV to the development of cervical cancer,” Grossman explains.
“Preventing cervical cancer is the easy part. It’s one of the only cancers that we know cause of…and it’s one of the ones we can start winning the war against,” Felder says.
You’re at higher risk of developing cervical cancer if:
- You have chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted disease.
- You eat only a few fruits and vegetables.
- You are overweight.
- You take oral contraceptives (birth control pills).
- You have had multiple full-term pregnancies.
- Your mother or sister had cervical cancer.
- Your mother took a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) while she was pregnant with you.