What are some facts about cervical cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute, cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer found in women, and it usually starts in the cells on the surface of the cervix, the organ connecting the uterus and the vagina.

It is a slow-growing cancer that may not have any symptoms, but can be found with routine pap tests, a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope. If abnormal cervical cell changes are found early, cancer can be prevented by removing or killing the changed cells before they become cancer cells.

Most studies in the past have found that cervical cancer is usually caused by the sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus, known as HPV. A woman can reduce her risk of cervical cancer by getting an HPV vaccine between the ages of 9 and 26, preferably before becoming sexually active.

Updated screening recommendations for cervical cancer are: pap smears every three years for women ages 21 to 65 years; for women ages 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, a pap smear with HPV testing every 5 years.

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org , or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Avenue.

ä Internet Resources:

National Cancer Institute- Understanding Cervical Cancer

cancer.gov/types/cervical

American Society of Clinical Oncology – Cervical Cancer

cancer.net/cancer-types/cervical-cancer

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.