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What You Need to Know About Cervical Cancer

While rare, cervical cancer does affect about 200,000 women in the United States each year. For those who do have it, it can be a devastating disease if not caught early enough. That’s why it’s vital to keep yourself informed about cervical cancer, so you and your loved ones can spot it before it gets too serious.

Keep reading below to learn more from the experts at Covington Women’s Health.

What is Cervical Cancer?

A type of cancer that happens in the cells of the cervix, cervical cancer starts when healthy cells in the lower vagina begin to reproduce uncontrollably. There are two types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. The former begins in the lining of the outer part of the cervix, while the latter begins in the cervical canal.

The biggest risk factors for this cancer are having multiple sexual partners, STIs, smoking, a weak immune system, and having sex early on in your life.

Currently, it’s not known what causes cervical cancer. However, it is clear that HPV plays a part. It is not the only reason though, as HPV is extremely common and many people with it never have cancer. So, HPV paired with environment or lifestyle factors will cause this cancer to develop.

Symptoms

Unfortunately, the early stages of this cancer show no symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms of the late stages of cervical cancer:

  • Bleeding from the vagina after sex.
  • Abnormal bleeding in-between periods or after menopause.
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain while having sex.
  • Discharge from the vagina that may be watery, bloody, or have a strong odor.

Treatment Options

The good news is that, usually, cervical cancer is treatable, if caught early enough. There are multiple ways to keep an eye on it in your body, such as early screening tests and the HPV vaccination. Speak with your gynecologist today about your screening options and if you should get the HPV vaccination if you haven’t yet.

There are also multiple treatment options available. The most common are as followed:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Therapy options
  • Radiation
  • Clinical Trials

If you have any further questions, reach out to our professional gynecologists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-385-8954.

Dr. Larrimore Appears on “The Weekly Check-Up”

Dr. Cathy Larrimore of Covington Women’s Health Specialist’s appeared on “The Weekly Check-Up” on News/Talk WSB Radio on Sunday, September 1st.

During her segment, Dr. Larrimore discussed a variety of women’s health issues such as the Zika virus, cervical cancer, HPV vaccinations, and how age can affect pregnancies. 

Dr. Larrimore also explained how her practice, Covington’s Women’s Health Specialists, offers an intimate option that is between a large hospital and home births. She talked about the risks that can come with home deliveries and how it’s safer to deliver in a hospital or center. Dr. Larrimore commented, “That’s why–if you can offer some natural childbirth techniques in the hospital–it’s the best scenario.” 

Additionally, Dr. Larrimore provided details on a program that her practice offers called CenteringPregnancy. Visits at this clinic last two hours and occur with a consistent group of 8 to 12 women who all have similar due dates. 

Participants learn how to take their own vital signs and be active in their prenatal care. Topics discussed during these visits include what to expect during labor, childcare, breastfeeding, parenting, and healthy diet habits.

Dr. Larrimore explained, “I like to think of the CenteringPregnancy program as excellent medical care combined with group therapy and good old fashioned peer pressure. The program is the only method that’s been proven to eliminate the health discrepancies between white and black expectant mothers.” 

Listen to archive of this show.

Dr. Meridith Farrow’s Thoughts on Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

By Dr. Meridith Farrow, MD, FACOG

Reports in the news about the annual well-woman exam are confusing! Do women need an examination every year? Is a Pap needed every year? The answers are YES and MAYBE! The annual well-woman visit is an excellent opportunity for counseling concerning a healthy lifestyle, minimizing health risks, and the physical exam that is done assesses overall health. The collection of the Pap is individualized based on the woman’s age and history.

Abnormal Bleeding Is the Most Common Symptom of Uterine Cancer

Women over the age of 55 are more likely than younger women to be diagnosed with uterine cancer. Younger women, however, can be at increased risk in certain situations. Obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and diabetes are among the conditions that increase the risk. Bleeding that occurs after menopause, heavy bleeding with periods or bleeding in between periods should all be evaluated by a Gynecologist. Early detection is the key to keeping women healthy!

New Pap Guidelines May Miss Some Cervical Cancers in Young Women

Over the last 30 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50% because of the Pap test. The Pap test finds changes in the cervix before cancer develops. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers today! Yet many women do not have this testing done. Changes in Pap test guidelines are causing some women to think that the Pap test is no longer necessary. Studies are underway investigating the impact of the new Pap guidelines. Many doctors make the Pap test a requirement for prescribing birth control, therefore many women stop going in for their tests after they have had tubal sterilization or no longer need birth control. Many women do not realize that the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age.

The Pap Test Is Still Necessary for Some Women, and It Saves Lives!

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women have an annual visit with a healthcare provider capable of performing a pelvic examination if needed. The Annual Well-Woman visit is a health assessment and should include screening, evaluation, and counseling for a variety of concerns. Based on your age and risk factors, a Pap will be done if needed.

Dr. Jessie Bender’s Thoughts on Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. But over the last 30 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50% because of the Pap test. This screening procedure can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers today! Yet many women do not have this testing done.

Unfortunately, news reports concerning recent changes in Pap test guidelines have been confusing. Some women think that the Pap test is no longer necessary. Many doctors make the Pap test a requirement for prescribing birth control, therefore many women stop going in for their tests after they have had tubal sterilization or no longer need birth control. Many women do not realize that the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age. The Pap test is still necessary for some women, and it saves lives!

There is a connection between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. If you have HPV, it’s even more important to get regular Pap tests. Vaccines are available that prevent HPV infection and cancer caused by HPV.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women have an annual visit with a healthcare provider capable of performing a pelvic examination if needed. The annual Women’s Wellness visit is a health assessment.

Cervical Cancer is preventable. Your ANNUAL GYN visit is important. We offer Women’s Wellness visits, with Pap tests and HPV testing if needed. We offer counseling regarding the HPV vaccine and the administration of the HPV vaccine if indicated.