Talking about the C word isn’t a conversation that most of us want to have but according to new reports coming out of the UK, it’s one we need to be having.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women and shockingly, around 99.7% of cases could be avoided. Why then, will 4,170 American women die from it in 2018?
The Brits might have the answer. Public Health England reported that only 72% of women in the UK took up the invite to a cervical smear test last year.
The reason? According to the report, 35% of women refused because they were embarrassed by their body shape, 31% will only go if they’ve had a wax and shockingly, one in six prioritized a gym glass over getting a test.
We love the dedication to your workouts, but seriously – your internal health needs to take priority over your spin class.
What causes cervical cancer?
In nearly all cases, human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that will infect around 80% of sexually active adults at some point in their life.
HPV is a group of viruses and it’s important to note that there are more than 100 different types with around 15 of those considered high-risk for cervical cancer. HPV 16 and HPV 18 have the highest risk, causing about seven out of every 10 cervical cancers.
Who’s at risk?
Cervical cancer is more common in young people, mainly occurring in women aged 25-29, however, it can affect older women too.
There are other lifestyle factors that can increase your risks. They include the following:
Women are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer if they smoke than women who don’t.
Having a weakened immune system
Taking certain medications, such as immunosuppressants, can also increase your risk.
Using the contraceptive pill (for more than five years)
Although it is unclear why, women who take the pill are thought to have twice the risk of developing cervical cancer than those who don’t.
Women with two children have twice the risk of getting cervical cancer compared with those with no children.
– RELATED: IUDs May Reduce The Risk Of Cervical Cancer –
What are the symptoms?
Unfortunately, there aren’t always obvious symptoms until you’ve reached an advanced stage which is why prevention is so important.
However, some of the most common symptoms include:
• Unusual bleeding
• Pain or discomfort during sex
• Unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge
It is important to remember that these are also common symptoms of other issues, so if you are experiencing any of them, do not worry and book an appointment with your doctor.
Advanced symptoms include:
• Weight loss
• Loss of appetite
• Bone pain
• Swelling of one of your legs
• Severe pain caused by swelling of your kidneys.
– RELATED: Everything You Need To Know About Hormones –
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis is done through a cervical screen test. It’s a straight-forward test that can pick up abnormal cells before they develop into a serious cancerous stage.
If you catch these cells early, they can be removed by a minor procedure called a cone biopsy. This involves removing a small, cone-shaped section of your cervix for examination.
If the cancer is more advanced there are three main types of surgery that are offered:
The cervix and surrounding tissue are removed and the womb is stitched closed. This is the only operation that will preserve your fertility.
The cervix and womb are removed.
The cervix, vagina, womb, bladder, ovaries, fallopian tubes and rectum are removed.
Feeling squeamish? We don’t blame you. This is why getting regular Pap tests is so important. It’s a simple test that shouldn’t take longer than five minutes and it could save your life.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests women should have their first Pap test no sooner than age 21 and every two years.
At the age of 30, if a woman has no history of cervical cancer and has had three Pap tests in a row she can be screened every three years.
Condoms can also reduce your risk of cervical cancer, although it is not 100% effective.
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