While great strides have been made in reducing the number of deaths from cervical cancer over the last 50 years, it is still one of the most common cancers affecting female reproductive organs. Most women show no symptoms of cervical cancer until the disease is in an advanced stage, which is why routine gynecological exams are vital in order to catch it early. It is imperative that women know what they can do to help prevent cervical cancer, what their risk factors are, and see their doctor immediately if they notice any signs or symptoms of advanced cervical cancer:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause;
- Watery bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor;
- Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.
Several of the most common strains of Human Papillomavirus (or HPV) have been found to play a major role in the onset of cervical cancer in women as well as other forms of cancer in both men and women. For this reason, two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, have been developed. The vaccines are administered to young women in three doses between the ages of 9 and 26, preferably before the onset of sexual activity. Please note: while these vaccines help prevent the most commonly occurring strains of sexually transmitted HPV, they do not prevent all forms of HPV and traditional forms of protection should continue to be used to guard against this and other sexually transmitted diseases.
All of this information and more can be found at Mayo Clinic's website.
If you or anyone you know living in Northwest Arkansas is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and needs emotional support or financial assistance, please contact Hope Cancer Resources to find out what services we have to offer. Call (479) 361-5847.