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Cervical Cancer: Know The Risks

January Is Cervical Cancer Month: Know The Warning Signs

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 12, 2010) – About 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,000 women die of the disease every year in the United States. With annual screening starting at age 21, most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented says a doctor at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center.

“Cervical cancer is a highly curable disease when detected early,” said Patricia Modad, MD, obstetrician/gynecologist. “However, women need more education about the risks of cervical cancer, the importance of yearly Pap test screening infection with HPV virus as well as HPV vaccine now available.” 

Cervical cancer, which is caused by abnormal cellular changes in the cervix, usually due to infection with HPV virus, is the only gynecological cancer that can be prevented by regular screening.

There is now conclusive evidence that the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes the majority of cases of cervical cancer. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 50 percent of sexually active women get the infection at some point in their lives and more than 80 percent of women will become infected with HPV at some time.

For most women, an HPV infection comes without symptoms and their immune system is able to suppress the virus. However, women with autoimmune diseases or immunocompromised, smokers, women with multiple sex partners, may develop pre-cancerous cell changes and even cervical cancer.

Other symptoms of cervical cancer include bleeding after intercourse, excessive discharge and abnormal bleeding between periods.

 “A woman with any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention from her gynecologist,” Modad elaborated.

In addition to the yearly Pap smear, the HPV test is available to women whose Pap results are abnormal or any woman who wishes to know whether she has been infected with the HPV virus.  This test can tell a woman and her doctor if she is at risk for developing cervical cancer.

With early detection and education, no woman need die from cervical cancer.