January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month!
What is cervical cancer?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later. When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. The cervix connects the vagina (the birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus. The uterus (or womb) is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and follow-up. It also is highly curable when found and treated early.
Are there tests that can prevent cervical cancer or find it early?
There are two tests that can either help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes, on the cervix that can be treated, so that cervical cancer is prevented. The Pap test also can find cervical cancer early, when treatment is most effective. The Pap test is recommended for women aged 21-65 years old. The Pap test only screens for cervical cancer. It does not screen for any other gynecologic cancer.
- The HPV test looks for HPV— the virus that can cause precancerous cell changes and cervical cancer.
The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls who are 11 to 12 years old but can be given as early as age 9 and until age 26.
For more information about cervical cancer, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/index.htm
To schedule an appointment with your El Centro provider, please call (713) 660-1880