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Advanced stage cervical cancer cases on the rise

January is cervical cancer awareness month.

Research shows that late-stage cervical cancer is on the rise. Doctors at Cleveland Clinic say that could be due in part to the pandemic and the change in guidelines for pap smears.

Before, women were told to get them done annually. Now, it’s every three years, and in some cases, every five years. Early stages of cervical cancer don’t usually involve symptoms and can be hard to detect, making the need for routine pap smears very important. The test can help identify any abnormal cells in the cervix, which is the lowest part of a woman’s uterus.

“It’s sort of hard to count by threes. And it’s very easy to kind of lose track of when your pap smear was and our guidelines are such that if it’s done one way then it’s a slightly different screening protocol. And I think that may be one of the issues that has led to an identification of more advanced cervix cancer that we’re seeing in the United States,” said Dr. Robert DeBernardo with Cleveland Clinic.

When symptoms do occur, they can include bleeding after sex, pelvic pain and vaginal discharge that contains blood.

Cervical cancer is preventable with a vaccine.

“We developed a vaccine years ago, there are several on the market, they are extremely effective at preventing cancer. In Australia where uptakes of vaccines are high, they are seeing a decrease in the amount of cervix cancer in that country,” Dr. Bernardo said.

Dr. DeBernardo said cervical cancer is preventable and is often the result of the virus HPV, a sexually transmitted infection. So, testing for that is equally as important. The same goes for the HPV vaccine – both men and women between the ages of 11 and 45 years old are eligible to get that

According to the CDC, roughly 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States, in addition to 4,000 deaths.

Source: WSLS News 10

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