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What Every Woman Should Know About Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, which means it’s an excellent time to make sure you’re up to date on screening for conditions that can affect your cervix, which is located between your uterus and your vagina.

Here at Signature Women’s Healthcare, we provide comprehensive screenings and treatment for cervical cancer, as well as the information you need to maintain good cervical health. Drs. Jacquline Hayles-Patterson and Tyndal M. Jones and the rest of our caring team want to ensure that you know exactly what to do to protect your cervix.

Here are some important facts about preventing cervical cancer.

Most cervical cancer can be prevented

Cervical cancer develops when the cells of the cervix grow abnormally.

In the past, cervical cancer was the number one cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States. But during the past 40 years, advances in knowledge about preventing cervical cancer have led to a dramatic decrease in cervical cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thanks to the Pap smear, the cervical cancer rate has plummeted.

Pap smears save lives

The Pap smear test can find precancerous cellular changes early when they are easiest to treat. It takes up to seven years for abnormal cellular changes in the cervix to develop into cancer, so it’s important to find and treat these cellular changes soon after they start to occur. 

HPV tests also save lives

Cervical cancer is caused by a virus known as HPV, or human papillomavirus. Having HPV, which spreads through sexual contact, is very common. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can cause cancer of the anus, vagina, penis, vulva, as well as some cancers of the head and neck.

Testing positive for HPV doesn’t mean you have cancer, but it does mean you have a slightly higher risk of developing precancerous cellular changes in your cervix. Staying on schedule with your Pap tests will help find any cell changes early when they can be treated easily.

The following guidelines are recommended for HPV testing:

The HPV vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer

Receiving the HPV vaccine can protect you from HPV infection. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the best time for women to receive the HPV vaccine is at age 11 or 12. But it can also be given between the ages of 9 and 26.

If you haven’t had the HPV vaccine, which is given in two doses separated by 6-12 months, your care providers here at Signature Women’s Healthcare can tell you whether you should have it.

Protect your cervical health

Having regular GYN checkups, including Pap smears and HPV tests, can go a long way toward preventing cervical cancer. Don’t wait to schedule an exam. Our offices are conveniently located in Lawrenceville and Lithonia, Georgia. Call one of our locations or book an appointment online today.

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