January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month but anytime is a good time to raise awareness of this disease. Although cervical cancer is preventable with screening and vaccination, sadly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.
What is the cervix?
If you don’t know what the cervix is, you’re not alone. According to a British study, only one third of women could correctly label the cervix and other parts of the reproductive tract. The cervix is located on the bottom of the uterus. In childbirth, it’s the hole that the baby travels through from the uterus to the vagina. When a woman isn’t pregnant, the cervix plays important roles in menstruation and fertility.
How does cervical cancer form?
The cervix is made up of delicate tissue that is prone to cellular damage that can turn into cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes 70% of cervical and precancerous cervical lesions, according the World Health Organization but many things can cause it. During a Pap smear the doctor takes a sample of the cells of the cervix and examines them for tissue abnormalities that could turn into cancer or other disorders. According to Dr. Eric Olyejar, a radiation oncologist in Arizona, “If every woman had a regular Pap smear and HPV test on a regular basis, the disease would always be caught before it turned into cervical cancer. No woman should get cervical cancer.”
Like other cancers, cervical cancer is categorized by different stages by oncologists. Dr. Olyejar explains that, “Early detection of cervical cancer is critical. If we can catch the disease before it spreads to the body, it’s far easier to manage. The more time that cervical cancer is allowed to spread, the poorer the prognosis. This is a disease we know how to treat but I’d much rather prevent it from happening in the first place. Education, awareness, and routine testing can prevent cervical cancer.”
Patients with cervical cancer receive care that is individualized based upon the stage of the cancer and other factors. Treatments plans should be developed by a well-experienced multi-specialty team not only addressing the stage of the cancer, but also the needs of the patient. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers have assembled nationally accredited, board certified, cancer specialists from the leading university medical centers across the United States to provide cutting edge, comprehensive cancer care in neighborhoods throughout the greater Phoenix region.
To learn more about cervical cancer treatment options contact Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers at 480-821-2838.