January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and Knoxville Hospital & Clinics wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer.
What Women Need to Know
- Each year, approximately 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer.
- Each year, approximately 4,300 women in the United States die from cervical cancer.
- Cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife.
- The Pap Test has decreased the cervical cancer death rate by 70 percent.
- Early cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms.
- Symptoms: pelvic pain during intercourse; watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor; vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause.
- HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.
- Family history
- Multiple full-term pregnancies
- Diets low in fruits and vegetables
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection
The Good News
- Cervical cancer is detectable, preventable and treatable.
- When caught in the early stages, you have an 80 percent chance of beating the cancer. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with your annual exams.
- The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
- Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.
- Most insurance plans, including the Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa (hawk-i) program, cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening. This means that, depending on their insurance, women can get these services at no cost to them.
In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, Knoxville Hospital & Clinics encourages:
- Women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21.
- Parents to make sure their pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12. Both boys and girls need the vaccine.
- All women to get their well-woman visit this year.
- Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.