A new perfume? A new phone app? None of the above. Recently, a string of commercials have taken aim at promoting a new message: awareness of cervical cancer. While rates have remained fairly steady in the diagnosis of cervical cancer cases, there seems to be a decrease in the awareness level of this disease. To combat this trend, GlaxoSmithKline has launched a new marketing campaign to bring the issue of cervical cancer back into the public eye.
What’s the big deal? While it may not have the public attention of many other cancers, cervical cancer is a serious problem among women. Every 47 minutes, another woman is diagnosed with this cancer. Another issue with cervical cancer is that is the second most common type among young women (20’s and 30’s). As women begin to have sexual intercourse at a younger age, cases are developing as early as high school or college in some women. Many of these women have yet to visit OB/GYNs for pelvic exams. Rarely showing symptoms, this disease is easily treated if caught early, but has serious consequences if left undiscovered. The best way to detect cervical cancer is through yearly Pap smears from a trained professional.
Why the awareness messages? Unlike other cancers, this type has proven preventative measures. Cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus, a sexually transmitted disease. By taking precautions to protect yourself during intercourse, you also help protect yourself from this cancer. Limiting sexual partners and frequent STI testing can also reduce your risk. Regardless of age, it is important to visit an OB/GYN every year once sexually active. There are many warning signs that can be detected before cervical cancer develops. Through Pap tests, your doctor can look for signs of irregular or pre-cancerous cells. These can be biopsied and removed early-on to prevent cervical cancer from developing. This type of cancer can develop quickly, so even missing one annual exam increases your risk of the irregular cells turning cancerous. Another preventative option is vaccination. Gardasil is a vaccination that is available through three shots that protect against the four most common types of HPV: the two most-commonly associated with cervical cancer, as well as two associated with genital warts. Nearly all insurance plans currently cover this vaccination. Talk to your doctor to see if it is right for you. Prevention and detection are important to your health. Ensure that you are protecting yourself against the dangers of cervical cancer.
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