At St. Elizabeth Healthcare, we want to educate and facilitate early detection and prevention of cancer. January is Cervical Health Awareness month – learn more about cervical cancer symptoms, risk factors, prevention and treatment options below and pass along to other females in your life.
Cervical Cancer: Symptoms
The symptoms of cervical cancer can be easily brushed off – but they shouldn’t be. If you experience any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor:
- Vaginal bleeding between menstrual cycles, after intercourse or after menopause.
- Unusual vaginal discharge.
- Pelvic pain, either ongoing or during intercourse.
Advanced symptoms include unintentional weight loss, back pain, leg swelling and unusual fatigue. Contact your primary care physician or gynecologist if you are experiencing any symptoms, either mild or severe.
Cervical Cancer: Risk Factors
Risk factors are factors that increase your chances of developing cancer. For cervical cancer, these risk factors include:
- Family history – studies show an increased risk of developing cervical cancer if your mother or sister has or had cervical cancer.
- Smoking – smoking increases your risk of developing cancer, including cervical cancer.
- Use of oral contraception – prolonged use of oral contraception can increase your cervical cancer risk.
- Sexual history – certain sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia have been linked to cervical cancer.
- HPV infection – women who have had the HPV infection also have an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Cervical Cancer: Prevention
Routine Pap tests are the best way to prevent or detect early cervical cancer. Make sure your doctor knows if you have a family history of cervical cancer – more frequent Pap tests might be suggested. The earlier cervical cancer is found, the better the outcome.
“We want to help patients who come through these doors fight this disease,” says Shayna Hamilton, Nurse Manager at the St. Elizabeth Cancer Care Center. “And at some point in their fight, they have touched someone else that may have gone to their doctor and asked about a Pap test or the HPV vaccination, quit smoking or encouraged prevention in some other way.”
Shayna recommends making safe lifestyle choices, including protected sex. Spread the word about prevention by telling your mother, daughter, friend or neighbor to get regular Pap tests. And make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any
Cervical Cancer: Treatment Options at St. Elizabeth Healthcare
If you are diagnosed with cervical cancer, St. Elizabeth will be with you every step of the way. Our Gynecological Oncologists, Dr. James Pavelka and Dr. Kevin Schuler, are experts in cervical cancer. There are many treatment options available, depending on your overall health and the severity or stage of cancer. Dr. Pavelka and Dr. Schuler will listen to your needs and create a treatment plan specifically for you. They will answer any questions, helping to put you and your family at ease. We also have an incredible support staff that will help coordinate your care and support you on this journey. You’re in good hands at St. Elizabeth.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call the Cancer Center at (859) 301-2237.