Early detection is key in preventing cervical cancer

| January 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

Alyssa Whetstine
TriWest Healthcare Alliance

PHOENIX — Did you know that cervical cancer was once a leading cause of cancer deaths in American women?

In fact, in many developing countries, it still is.

However, cervical cancer deaths in the U.S. fell by about 70 percent between 1955 and 1992, according to the American Cancer Society.

What caused this difference?

One life-saving exam: the Pap test.

Many women don’t go to the doctor for their annual Pap tests, often because of misunderstandings about the exam. Avoiding this test boils down to one important thing: not having it could take you away from life’s most important moments with your family.

Let’s take a few minutes to debunk some common myths.

Myth: I can skip a few Pap tests without serious consequences.

According to ACS, 60 to 80 percent of women diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer haven’t had a Pap test in the past five years. Skipping just a few of these exams can allow cancer to develop without you knowing.

Myth: If I’m going to get cervical cancer, a test won’t make a difference either way.

When found early, cervical cancer is highly treatable. Nearly 90 percent of diagnosed women survive because of early detection, according to the ACS. That’s why getting your Pap tests can mean the difference between life and death.

Myth: Once I’m done having children, I can stop getting my Pap tests.

If you’ve given birth to three or more children, you have a greater chance of developing cervical cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, this cancer often forms after a woman’s child-bearing years.

Myth: If I’ve had the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine, I can’t get cervical cancer, and I don’t need any more Pap tests.

The HPV vaccine only protects against the few strains of the virus, which cause most cervical cancers. However, they’re not the only causes. Getting vaccinated is highly recommended, but it does not mean you will never get cervical cancer.

So take the time, make the time. Call for that appointment.

For more information about cervical cancer prevention, visit www.triwest.com/Pap.

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Category: Community, Health

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