All women are at risk for cervical cancer, a disease of the female reproductive organs, but the good news is that this type of cancer is highly curable when found and treated early.
The American Cancer Society estimates there will be over 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer diagnosed in the United States this year. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness about this disease. Here are a few things you should know about cervical cancer:
- Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the US. Due to improved screening techniques, over the past 40 years, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer has decreased dramatically.
- Cervical cancer occurs most often in women over age 30.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common sexually-transmitted infection, which many people will have at some point in their lives. Often, it shows no symptoms and will go away on its own. Most women who have HPV will not get cervical cancer, but it is a risk factor.
- Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent through regular testing.
- Early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms, so it is important to get screened regularly.
- If cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life for the patient.
- Pap smear and HPV test can screen for cancer. The Pap test only screens for cervical cancer, while the HPV test looks for HPV, the virus that can cause precancerous cell changes and cervical cancer, so talk to your doctor about both.
If you are a woman over 40 years old and are uninsured, you may be eligible for a free cervical cancer screening through the Cancer Services Program. To learn more, call (866) 422-2262.
To learn more about cervical cancer, visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/