6 Things to Know for Cervical Health Awareness Month

Teal ribbon awareness on female hands in white t-shirt background w/ copy space. Symbolic for cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, gynecological cancer and PCOS. Women's health care concept; blog: 6 Things to Know for Cervical Health Awareness Month

Cervical cancer was once the number one cause of cancer death in American women. However, because of routine testing and developments in preventative medicine, that is no longer the case. However, there’s more work to be done to protect women. January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to brush on some facts about cervical health, HPV, and cervical cancer.

1. HPV Infection is the Biggest Risk Factor for Developing Cervical Cancer

Like most cancers, the exact cause of cervical cancer has not been confirmed, but doctors and researchers are certain that HPV plays a big role. HPV is a common virus with many different types, and many people will get HPV at some point but most don’t develop cancer. HPV infection and/or other factors cause cells in the cervix to mutate (change) and multiply excessively.

2. Over 13,000 New Cases of Cervical Cancer Are Diagnosed Each Year in the US

Cervical cancer is diagnosed most frequently in women between 34 and 44. Mortality rates of cervical dropped significantly after Pap tests became routine, but it has not changed much since. That’s why Cervical Health Awareness Month is important, so more work can be done to make rates drop even more.

3. Certain People Are at Higher Risk

Some women are more likely to get cervical cancer than others. According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States, Hispanic women are most likely to get cervical cancer, followed by African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and whites. The people in the US with the lowest risk of getting cervical cancer are American Indians and Alaskan natives.

4. You Can Take Steps to Reduce Your Risks

The goal of Cervical Health Awareness is to help women understand the risk factors and causes of cervical cancer, treatment options, and how they can protect themselves. Regular screenings are critical for cervical health. Screening does not prevent cervical cancer from developing, but regular testing is critical in catching signs of cancer early. If cervical cancer is diagnosed early, it is easier to treat.

There are two types of tests used to screen for cervical cancer:

  • Pap test: This test detects early cell changes in the cervix before they become cancer or find cancer early, making it easier to treat. The Pap test is performed by your gynecologist by inserting a speculum into the vagina and collecting cells from the cervix with a swab. The cells are then examined in a lab.
  • HPV DNA test: This test looks at cervical cells to find pieces of the DNA of the types of HPV linked to cancer. The test can be performed using the same swab as the Pap test, or a separate swab may be collected.

Cervical cancer can also be prevented by an HPV vaccine that protects against the two high-risk types of the virus that are linked to cancer. The vaccine can also protect against the types of HPV that cause genital warts. More information on the HPV vaccine can be found on the CDC website as well as later on in this list.

5. Regular Screenings Should Start at 21

The CDC and American Cancer Society both recommend that all women begin to get regular screenings for HPV and cervical cancer starting at age 21. How often you need to be screened depends on your age and the results of previous tests. All women should have an annual exam each year until age 65, in which the provider performs a breast and pelvic exam. The frequency of the Pap screening will be addressed with the patient during this visit based on the patient’s age, history, and risk factors.

6. Both Girls and Boys Should Get the HPV Vaccine Early

While only women get cervical cancer, both boys and girls should get the HPV vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that two doses of the HPV vaccine for all boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12 years old. The second dose is given 6-12 months after the first. People starting the vaccine series between ages 15-45 need three doses over six months.

At Triangle Physicians for Women, we provide full-scope obstetric and gynecologic care with a focus on the treatment and prevention of diseases like HPV and cervical cancer. Our services include comprehensive gynecological exams, Pap smears as well as HPV vaccination. If you have questions or concerns about your cervical health, call (919) 678-6900 to make an appointment at one of our offices in Holly Springs or Cary.

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Love love love Dr. Grana and her crew. Love going to Holly Springs office. The girls are the best from Lisa at the front desk to all the girls in the back. Your music and atmosphere is great. Thanks for making these appointments fun!! Yes believe it or not, fun!!!

Dr V and the office staff were all very professional, understanding, caring and very efficient. I would be happy to recommend this practice to friends, family and associates. – Barbara M. Lucas

My visit was great! & my past visit have all been great.Kristy helped me even with me being a bit stressed & in a hurry because I had to be seen & my job is super strict. Her urgency to get me seen was phenomenal. I even got to see Heather, she’s awesome & amazing. She helped deliver my baby girl a year ago. My whole family loves her and Dr Sheshadri. We actually can’t wait to get pregnant again hahaha. Everyone treats you with respect and always makes sure your okay & answers whatever questions you have before you leave. Even leaving a message for the nurses,they get back to you so quickly.  This practice really makes you feel taken care of.  We appreciate you all!  – Erika Hooks

My experience with the TP4W staff has been top of the line.  They helped me through three pregnancies and coached me through every step of the way.  Eternally thankful I chose TP4W.  – Britney

TP4W have such amazing doctors, midwives and nurses.  I cannot say enough about Dr. Grana and the rest of the staff for all the help, advice, guidance and medical care they provided me with all of my kids.  She made me feel safe and calm through both c-sections.  My routine care and pregnancy care have always been top notch and I would recommend them to anyone looking for an OBGYN.  – Brooke

We were honored to receive a hand written note..

Dr. Grana, Angie, Jessica, Heather, April, Sarah and the rest of the staff –

Thank you all so much for taking such good care of me through both of my pregnancies and births, especially my latest one on 10/29! most of yall know how nervous I was from having gone through a lot (to say the least) with my first in 2016. You all made me feel so comfortable and at ease before, during and after. And going through a touch year with my dad, you guys always asked how he was doing at every appointment, which was so thoughtful and beyond your job description. I know that you all see many women go through what i did each and every day and deliver many babies and perform many c-sections. But I hope you know how special Ruby’s delivery was to me. You all have amazing jobs! I cannot thank you all enough. Merry Christmas!

Love, Lucy

I have been going to TP4W since 2010/11 and could not be happier.

The staff, nurses, midwives, and doctors are all amazing. I have 2 sons, both delivered via cesarean by Dr. V. Every visit and every provider did everything in their power to give me the birth experience I wanted, and also ensure that myself and my babies were safe and healthy. Dr. V even did everything in his power to help me avoid my first c-section and VBAC with the second, but that turned out to be out of his hands and he was the absolute best surgeon. With my two pregnancies, I experienced a few scares and some unusual circumstances that would be too long and too private to write in a review, but every single hurdle was handled with grace, honesty, and professionalism. I am so thankful for the recommendation from a friend to come to this office. I can’t imagine ever going to another practice.

TP4W is amazing and I am so very thankful I found them 9 years ago!! Amazing partnership between midwives and doctors, sweet nurses and front end staff, and relaxing environment. I literally recommend them to all my friends! I look forward to my appointments and feel like I’m going to catch up with old friends.

I’ve always had wonderful experiences at TP4W. Everyone is friendly, knowledgeable, and thorough in their care. April delivered my son and I can’t say enough wonderful things about her. She is patient and compassionate. I had the best labor and delivery experience thanks to her. I do and will continue to recommend them to my friends and family!