Prevention and early detection are tools in the fight against cervical cancer
Our San Antonio OBGYNs recommend cancer screening and HPV vaccines to help combat cervical cancer. Cancer of the cervix occurs at the uterine opening at the top of the vagina. When the cells in the thin layer of tissue that covers the cervix begin to change, they become precancerous. If the precancerous cells aren’t detected and treated, they will grow and become cancerous. These cancerous cells can spread into other organs or form tumors.
The primary cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most cervical cancer is HPV-associated and HPV-attributable. Skin-to-skin contact during oral, vaginal or anal sex spreads HPV. In fact, it is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. Almost all sexually active people will get an HPV infection at some point.
In addition to having HPV, there are other risk factors for developing cancer of the cervix.
- Having multiple sex partners
- Having sexual intercourse with a partner who has had multiple partners
- Starting to have sex before age 18
- Being immunosuppressed, or having a weak immune system
- Having family or personal history of cervical cancer
Women who already have HPV, smoke, have had several children or have taken birth control pills for a long period of time are also more likely to get this type of cancer.
Cervical cancer symptoms
Often, there aren’t any symptoms or signs in the early stages of this type of cancer. A woman’s annual wellness visit is an important way to prevent cervical cancer. HPV vaccines are also helpful for females age 26 and younger. Screening for the disease helps detect pre-cancer and early cancer when the condition is easiest to treat. As the cancer progresses, women may observe unusual signs or symptoms.
- Abnormal bleeding or spotting
- Watery discharge
- Heavier bleeding during menstruation
- Pain after sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Problems with urination
- Swelling in the legs
Women should contact our San Antonio OBGYNs if they are experiencing these symptoms.
The Pap test and the HPV test are vital screening tools
Screening and annual exams are the best way to fight cervical cancer. Our San Antonio OBGYNs follow The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ guidelines for cervical cancer screening and Pap smear recommendations.
- Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test only.
- Women ages 30 to 65 need a Pap test with an HPV test, known as co-testing, every three to five years.
- Patients can also only have a Pap test after discussing it with our physicians.
Our San Antonio OBGYNs have the experience and training to provide screening, diagnosis and treatment for cervical cancer. Contact us for an appointment.