Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. That all changed, however, thanks to an increased use of Pap smear testing. In fact, incidence rates of cervical cancer have dropped by more than half since Pap smear testing has become an integral part of women’s wellness.
All women are at risk for cervical cancer, though it typically occurs in women over the age of 30. Each year, an estimated 13,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer.
A Pap smear procedure can detect cervical cancer early, when it’s smaller and easier to cure. Thanks to this testing, cervical cancer has become one of the most successfully treatable cancers.
Risk factors for cervical cancer
The most common lifestyle factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer include early sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, and smoking. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices. Below are additional risk factors that can increase your risk of cervical cancer:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- A weakened immune system
- Chlamydia infection
- Being overweight
- Poor nutrition
- Long-term use of oral contraceptives
- Intrauterine device use
- Multiple full-term pregnancies
- Family history
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
Women with early cervical cancers and pre-cancers usually do not have symptoms, which is why it’s so important to get regular Pap smears. Symptoms do not develop until the cancer becomes invasive and grows into nearby tissue. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of cervical cancer:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Unusual discharge from the vagina
- Pain during intercourse
For skilled, compassionate, and experienced cervical cancer treatment in Tinley Park, Homewood, and Palos Heights, call Alpha Med Physicians Group at 708-342-1900. Our board-certified oncologists have decades of experience helping and treating women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer.