January is the month to raise awareness for cervical cancer in Canada. Here, cervical cancer is the 12th most common cancer diagnosed in women. Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix, the organ connecting the uterus and vagina, grow rapidly. As a result, the cancer may spread to deeper tissues in the cervix and can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, bladder, vagina, and rectum.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The symptoms of cervical cancer vary among women, making it very difficult to treat and diagnose. Often the symptoms are vague and can be explained away by our daily lives. This means, women often do not get a diagnosis until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage. For the sake of your health, please don’t ignore any of the symptoms of cervical cancer :
- Bone pain
- Weight loss and lack of appetite
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Pain when you have sex
- Pelvic pain
- Trouble peeing
- Swollen legs
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, such as after sex, between periods, after menopause, or after a pelvic exam
Cervical Cancer Prevention
Getting screened regularly with a Pap smear and/or HPV test is one of the easiest ways to prevent cervical cancer. Screening picks up precancerous cells, so they can be treated before they turn into cancer.
Research suggests the following can reduce risk of cervical cancer:
- Limiting the number of sexual partners
- Regular Pap and HPV test
- Using condoms or other the barrier method when having vaginal, oral, or anal sex
Cervical cancer treatments vary according to cancer location and stage of the cancer. The most common treatments for cervical cancer are surgery and radiation therapy while additional treatment options include biological therapy and chemotherapy. Your medical team will decide what is right for you.
Cervical Health Awareness Month is a great time to raise awareness about cervical health and the importance of regularly undergoing cervical cancer screenings.
Click here to learn more about Cervical Cancer