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Cervical Cancer Prevention

Cervical Cancer Prevention

There is a tendency to assume that “no news is good news” with the body; or, should we say, “no symptoms are good symptoms.” And, while it’s true the body typically “speaks up” when something is wrong via tangible symptoms and side effects – there are exceptions.

Cervical cancer is one of these. Most of the time, cervical cancer is silent, creating disease in the cervix and the reproductive tract – and then metastasizing to other parts of the body – without causing notable symptoms. In cases when certain types, or later-stage, cervical cancer does cause side-effects, it may be too late to treat it.

A Proactive Approach is the Best Way to Prevent Cervical Cancer

The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to maintain a proactive approach. And, as always, schedule an appointment immediately if you experience symptoms of cervical cancer, which include:

  • Abnormal bleeding and/or very heavy periods
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Painful intercourse

Other symptoms can include pelvic, back or leg pain, major fatigue, chronic nausea or feeling like you’re going to vomit, unusual weight loss (out of the blue, unrelated to diet/exercise).

Get vaccinated for HPV if you’re 26-years of age or younger

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a leading cause of cervical cancer. HPV vaccines are recommended for women between the ages of 9 and 26.

Young men (9- to 26-years) should also get the HPV vaccine because, in addition to preventing genital warts and STDs that lead to other cancers, the vaccine prevents men from becoming infected and spreading HPV to their sexual partners.

Maintain annual visit with your gynecologist

Pap smears are the tests used to screen for abnormal cervical cells and/or evidence of cervical cancer. In most cases, gynecologists recommend women between the ages of 20 and 61 get pap smears every three years; HPV tests are recommended every five years. While you should absolutely follow these guidelines, it’s still best to see your gynecologist every year for an annual pelvic exam and general check-up.

Annual visits help your physician keep abreast of what’s going on in your life, whether or not risk factors indicate you should get a pap smear more often, and s/he could potentially feel or see something during your routine pelvic exam that raises a red flag. When it comes to cancers of any kind, early diagnosis is key to more successful treatment outcomes.

Make healthy lifestyle choices

Making healthy lifestyle choices is the best way to prevent cervical and other forms of cancer. In addition to preventing your body from developing cancers, the health-wise benefits of a healthy lifestyle support your immune system in eradicating cancer cells if they do show up.

Healthy lifestyle choices include:

  • Using condoms to prevent the spread of HPV and other STDs - all of which put you at risk for developing cancer and other complications.
  • Getting the HPV vaccination and remain current on other vaccinations that prevent other diseases that make you more vulnerable to cancer
  • Not smoking, drinking excessively or using recreational drugs
  • Eating a healthy diet, including lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean animal proteins, foods grown/raised without herbicides, pesticides, hormones or antibiotics and focusing on anti-inflammatory foods
  • Avoiding processed sugars, processed foods, and foods that contain preservatives and chemicals
  • Exercising for at least 30-minutes, three to five times per week
  • Observing annual physicals and specialty appointments

Are you facing a cervical cancer diagnosis? Contact the oncology team at Palouse Specialty Physicians. Our exceptional, nearby location prevents Palouse residents from the long haul to Vancouver, so you have more time to spend taking care of yourself.

image: freepik.com

Published on January 28, 2019

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