I’m sure you’ve heard of cervical cancer, but you are probably lucky enough to not know anyone with this disease. According to TopLine MD OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Schell, there is a reason for this. Cervical cancer is one of the few preventable cancers that exist.
The official screening test for cervical cancer is the Pap smear – a swab of the cervix that can reveal abnormal cells, often before cancer appears. If test results show abnormal cells, a repeat Pap test may be needed or a colposcopy – a procedure that takes a sample of the cervical tissue to be examined under a microscope – may be ordered. If the abnormal cells are determined to be precancerous, they can be removed and destroyed, but regular Pap smears are still recommended moving forward.
5 things all women should know about cervical cancer in order to prevent it:
1. The majority of cases occur due to HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection.
2. Cervical cancer has no symptoms unless it’s very advanced.
3. There is a vaccine against HPV virus.
4. HPV virus is sexually transmitted, so condoms are important in the prevention of cervical cancer.
5. Smoking increases your risk of cervical cancer…yes, you read that right.
It is recommended that all women begin getting screened for cervical cancer starting at the age of 21. Women without a history of abnormal Pap smears may choose to be screened every 3-5 years, but insurance will cover yearly Pap Smears. If you are over the age of 65, you may qualify to discontinue Pap Smears, but you should consult your doctor first.
By being informed about this type of cancer and knowing the importance of early detection, more women are able to protect their health.
About Dr. Jennifer Schell
Dr. Jennifer Schell is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in Miami, Florida. She specializes in adolescent gynecology, management of miscarriages, high risk pregnancies and lactation guidance at Lievano, Perez & Associates. For more information about Dr. Schell, click here!