Cervical Cancer: information to effectively raise awareness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rachel Loftis
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

January is Cervical Health Awareness month. Cervical cancer was at one point, the most common cause of cancer death for women in America.

The death rate for cervical cancer has dropped significantly over the past 30 years. In fact, it has dropped 50 percent due to increased use of screening tests such as the Pap smear as well as awareness programs and modern medical advances.

The most common cause of cervical cancer is Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Below is some information provided by the Air Force Medical Service to help raise awareness for cervical health.

What do you need to know to effectively raise awareness about cervical health?

Common Cervical Health concerns:
• Human Papillomavirus
o An infection spread through sexual contact
o 79 million Americans are currently living with HPV, many of whom are unaware that they are infected
o The HPV vaccine can prevent HPV
 This vaccine is available to men and women under the age of 26
o HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer
• Cervical Cancer
o Occurs when abnormal cells in the cervix grow out of control
o Easiest gynecological cancer to prevent with regular screenings
 Women age 21 to 29 should get a Pap test every three years
 Women age 30 to 65 should get a Pap test and HPV test every five years
o Highly treatable with early detection
o Cervical cancer symptoms
 Early cervical cancer may show no symptoms
 Advanced forms of the cancer may cause irregular discharges or bleeding from the vagina
o See a healthcare provider if you experience the above symptoms
o Cervical cancer risk factors
 Having HPV greatly increases the risk of cervical cancer
 HPV is more likely to develop the younger a woman is when they begin having sex
 Engaging in intercourse with many partners or engaging in intercourse with a partner that has had many partners increases the risk of HPV and cervical cancer
 Smokers are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer
 People with HIV are more likely to develop cervical cancer
 Women who have had three or more children face a greater risk of cervical cancer
o Preventing cervical cancer
 Getting the HPV vaccine protects against types of HPV that are known to cause cervical cancer
 See a doctor regularly for screenings
 Stop any tobacco use
 Use condoms during sexual intercourse
 Limit your amount of sexual partners

For more information on cervical cancer visit: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/index.htm, / or Triwest.com/prevention