More than 12,000 women each year are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about one-third of those die as a result of cervical cancer.
That’s why January is a special month, and has been named Cervical Health Awareness Month by the American Social Health Association and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. It was designed as a way for people to get involved to educate women about the importance of getting screenings and vaccinations. Have you been doing your part to raise awareness?
- Spread the message through social media.
- Display and distribute a cervical cancer awareness month poster.
- Discuss it with friends and family
Even though cervical cancer symptoms can also indicate that an individual has just an infection, it is still recommended to seek treatment from your healthcare professional. It would also be wise to get a second opinion, especially from a doctor who is experienced with treating cervical cancer.
Symptoms of cervical cancer can include:
- Bleeding after menopause
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Bleeding after douching
- Bleeding following a pelvic exam
- Having heavier menstrual periods than usual or ones that last longer than usual
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Pain during intercourse
- Pelvic pain
Once an individual is diagnosed with cancer by a cervical biopsy, the next step is to determine the stage. A stage is assigned based on the size of the cancer, how deeply the cancer has invaded into the tissue around the cervix, if there are signs of cancer in the vagina, pelvis or local lymph nodes and if there are signs of cancer spread to other organs.
Stages range from stage1, which means cancer is in the cervix or uterus only, to stage IVB, which means the cancer has spread to distant organs, such as the liver.
It is crucial to seek treatment as soon as symptoms are noticed, because when detected at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is 91 percent. If you wait too long and the cancer has had a chance to spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 57 percent. And, if the cancer has already spread to a distant part of the body, the five-year survival rate is just 16 percent.
So, with awareness, we will be able to help people get tested, understand their diagnosis and help them get the treatments that are needed. This will also help to find changes in the cervix before cancer develops, and before it goes beyond its most curable stage.
If you do suspect that you or someone you know may be suffering from cervical cancer, please call Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.