By Dr Geeta Vandana R
Consultant Gynecologist & Obstetrician
Published on 13/01/2023
Cervical Health Awareness Month is observed in January to encourage women to pay closer attention to their health. Many women neglect their cervical health throughout their entire lives. If women are aware of this, they can identify any health risks early and receive the best care.
Cervical Health Awareness Month 2023
The theme of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in 2023 is "Ending cervical cancer within a few generations." If it is identified early and treated effectively, the aim of ending cervical cancer can be achieved. It is one of the cancer types that are most successfully treated. Let's educate all the women out there about cervical health!
Understanding Cervical Cancer!
Cervical cancer is the world's second leading cause of cancer fatality in reproductive-aged women and the fourth most common cancer in women of ages. This malignancy, which has an average diagnosis age of 50, is most usually found in females between the ages of 35 and 44. It rarely occurs in women under the age of 20. Many older women are not aware that they have cervical cancer which leads to increased risk with age. However, this cancer is uncommon in women who had frequent cervical cancer screenings before age 65.
If it is not detected in its early stages, it could be fatal. Cervical precancerous cells often do not manifest symptoms until the disease has progressed to a dangerous and severe stage.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
- Unexpected vaginal discharge
- Increased urination as well as urination pain.
- Abnormal bleeding that happens after intercourse or in postmenopausal women .
- Pelvic pain that is unrelated to your menstruation
Numerous cervical cancer symptoms are also common indicators of other medical problems. Women should consult their gynecologist for advice if they have any of these symptoms.
The Most Common Cause of Cervical Cancer
HPV (Human papillomavirus) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is brought on by the human papillomavirus, which is spread through sexual intercourse. Early-stage HPV treatment is simple, but if left untreated, cervical cancer can slowly grow, posing severe risks.
Fortunately, conditions are improving, and the fatality rate is declining due to effective HPV vaccination, routine screening, and the availability of cutting-edge testing technology. It's essential for women to get examined for cervical cancer after reaching a certain age. The risk of developing cancer is highest in women over the age of 35, but with routine screening, it is possible to detect cervical cancer early and begin treatment.
Know the Prevention!
There are vaccines against high-risk HPV types and screening tests that can detect early disease indications, enabling effective management and treatment of the problem. As a result, cervical cancer is among the cancers that are easiest to prevent and treat. Know who is eligible for an HPV vaccination?
- HPV vaccination is advised for preteens aged 11-12 years old. However, it can be administered as early as age 9.
- If they have not already been vaccinated, everyone up to the age of 26 is advised to get the HPV vaccine.
- HPV vaccination is not recommended for individuals over the age of 26. However, some adults aged 27 to 45 who are not vaccinated may decide to obtain the HPV vaccine after discussing their risk of new HPV infections with their doctor and the potential advantages of vaccination. The HPV vaccine is less effective in this age group because more people have already been exposed to HPV.
- HPV vaccination protects against future HPV infections but does not treat existing conditions. This is why the HPV vaccine works best when administered before any HPV exposure.
Get Screened for Cervical Cancer
With early detection and proper care, cervical cancer can be treated and preventable. Any abnormalities in the cervix and its cells can be found with the help of advanced screening methods. Regular screening can also help lower the risk of developing cancer and other precancerous conditions such as HPV. The following are a few of the often-employed diagnostic techniques that can help prevent and lower the risk of cervical cancer in women:
Papanicolaou test (Pap smear)
A PAP test is a routine pelvic exam that looks for changes in cervical cells that can indicate the beginning of cervical cancer. PAP testing is usually advised for females over 30 years of age . After five years, it can be done again if necessary, this time along with a HPV test.
Cervical lesions can be detected through visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA). The most affordable approach for women between the ages of 26 and 30 is straightforward treatment and accurate identification of cervical cancer's early symptoms. After a cervical biopsy, women who test positive for VIA are treated with cryotherapy.
In 99% of cases, human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the root cause of cervical cancer. HPV testing helps in the detection of HPV, the virus that is responsible for most of the cervical cancers in women. One can lower the risk of cervical cancer and choose the best course of therapy if one catches HPV early. If the doctor recommends a PAP and HPV test together, don't worry; it's a routine procedure for confirmation.
After Screening: If the doctor detects anything concerning based on the screening results, you might be requested to keep an eye on the situation. The medical professional can also suggest that you visit a different specialist or ask to undergo additional procedures such as a colposcopy, biopsy, or the removal of abnormal cervical cells.
Be Proactive About Cervical Health
Cervical cancer should not be feared; rather, it should be treated with caution. STD testing, HPV vaccination, and regular screening are all simple steps that can have a major effect on your overall health. Cervical cancer is treatable and preventable, so get tested and screened today!