Any phrase that includes the word "cancer" can sometimes be enough to send the anxiety levels shooting upward, but for that reason, it's even more important to be armed with information. So let's talk about cervical cancer, which stems from the human papillomavirus (HPV) in 99 percent of cases.
Most of us (over the age of 21) are familiar with visiting a gynecologist for screening tests. Mahboobeh Safaeian, Ph.D. Director of Clinical Sciences for HPV at Roche Molecular Diagnostics, emphasizes, "the goal of cervical cancer prevention is to screen women when they are healthy and well, to identify potential pre-cancer that can then be treated effectively." She also stresses that cervical cancer is an "eminently preventable disease that no woman should die from," thus "the combination of proper screening, testing, and HPV vaccination can protect women and eliminate this cancer from developing." Dr. Safaeian further adds, "today's screening strategies can be improved by incorporating an HPV DNA test in front of, or along with a Pap test."
Regarding the tests, Shobhana Anil Gandhi, MD, board-certified OB/GYN in Los Angeles, explains that "the most common way we detect abnormalities in the cervix is by routine pap smears."
And outside of that, if we can learn to recognize abnormal symptoms within the body on our own, the more comfortable we will actually be in our bodies -- whether there is an abnormality or not.
With cervical cancer, what are the key signs to look out for?