Park Plaza Addresses Myths During Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
When it comes to cervical cancer there is both good news and bad news.
We’ll start with the bad news. In 2003, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be about 12,200 new cases of cervical cancer, and about 4,100 women will die from it.
Now the good news, cervical cancer used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death in women in the United States. In fact, the ACS states that between 1955 and 1992 the number of deaths from cervical cancer decreased by 74 percent due to the use of new screening tests. When detected early and treated properly, cervical cancer can be treated.
"Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the opening to the lower portion of the uterus. Cervical cancer typically takes time to develop," said Dr. Hector del Castillo, Jr., a OB/GYN at Park Plaza Hospital. "Over the course of several years, cells may change from normal to pre-cancerous, and then to cancerous."
There are risk factors that increase the chances of developing cervical cancer, including:
· Age: Most women are diagnosed between 50 and 55 years old, although it is a disease that is also seen in younger women.
· Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV): This large group of sexually transmitted viruses is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer. Women with HPV are at increased risk.
· Smoking: Women who smoke are nearly twice as likely to develop cervical cancer than non-smoking women.
· Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection (HIV): HIV causes the immune system to become more susceptible, therefore increasing the risk for developing infections such as HPV, which could then lead to cervical cancer.
· Chlamydia Infection: This is a sexually transmitted bacteria that may increase a woman’s chance for getting cervical cancer.
· Diet: Diets low in fruits and vegetables have been linked to cancer.
· Oral Contraceptives: There are studies that have shown a slight risk of developing cervical cancer for women who have used birth control for more than five years. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk and the right birth control for you.
· Diethylstilbestrol (DES): DES is a hormonal drug given to women between 1940 and 1971. "DES Daughters" may be at increased risk for developing cervical cancer.
· Family History of Cervical Cancer: Women with a mother or sister with cervical cancer may be at a higher risk for developing the disease as well.
Regardless of what you think your risks are, get an annual Pap test, eat right, don’t smoke and be sexually responsible. These are good ways to help ensure that when it comes to cervical cancer, you may get the good news you want to hear.
To find a doctor in your area, call 1-888-TENET-4U. For more information on cervical cancer or your risks, talk to your doctor or contact the American Cancer Society.