According to The American Cancer Society, 14,100 women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer this year alone. Out of the women who have cervical cancer, 4,280 of them will die. Since cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of death in this country, it’s imperative that women get a cervical cancer screening.
The sooner cancer is detected, the sooner treatment can begin. If you’re curious about when women should receive cervical cancer screenings, this article will share that. It will provide you with potential cancer signs to look out for as well.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is what happens when healthy cells within a woman’s cervix begin to mutate. While it’s unclear what causes this type of cancer, the human papillomavirus (HPV) plays a role. Although the virus is common and doesn’t usually turn into cancer, getting vaccinated can lower the risk.
Other factors that can increase a cervical cancer diagnosis include:
- Multiple sex partners
- Untreated STIs or STDs
- Sexual activity at an early age
- A weakened immune system
Warning Signs That Should Not Be Overlooked When It Comes to Cervical Cancer
So, how can a woman know if she might have cervical cancer? Some of the early signs include:
- Irregular bleeding (including after intercourse or in between menstrual cycles)
- Bloody and watery discharge (especially if it has an odor)
- Pelvic pain during intercourse
If any of these symptoms occur, she should make an appointment with her doctor as soon as possible. Even if it’s not cancer, these are indications that she needs to be checked out.
How Often Should Women Get a Cervical Cancer Screening?
We’ve all heard the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That said, practicing safe sex and choosing not to smoke will help to prevent cervical cancer. So does getting a cancer screening test.
How often should women do this? That’s a good question. The answer depends on a woman’s age and the kind of tests that she gets. Women between the ages of 21 and 65 should get a routine pap test every three years. Women who are 30 and over can get a pap test every five years if it’s combined with an HPV test.
It’s important to keep in mind that certain factors may call for more routine cancer screenings. Some of those include:
- Abnormal cancer cells after a pap or HPV test
- Having a weakened immunity
- Being HIV-positive
- Being a smoker
When Can Women Stop Getting This Kind of Cancer Screening?
There are two instances when a woman can go without getting cervical cancer screenings:
- If she’s had a full hysterectomy (because that means her uterus has been removed)
- If she’s over the age of 65 (and has had routine negative cancer screening tests in the past)
Ending cervical cancer screenings isn’t a decision that a woman should make on her own. She should discuss her lifestyle habits, medical history, and other factors with her physician first.
Let Us Help You with Your Healthcare Needs
If you live in the Winfield, Alabama area and you want to get a cervical cancer screening, we’d be happy to help. We also provide many other health-related services.