September is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in South Africa. Cervical cancer screening aims to detect unsuspected cancer risk in women.
Aevitas would like to encourage women to have their cervical screening performed during the month of September!
What causes cervical cancer?
Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV (Human papillomavirus). HPV is a viral infection commonly causing skin or mucous membrane warts. There are more than 100 varieties of HPV. Some HPV varieties cause warts, whereas other genital HPV infections can cause cancers.
How is routine screening for cervical cancer and HPV performed?
Screening is performed through a PAP smear. Your PAP smear can detect changes in the cells of your cervix and may be tested for HPV. This is important as there are usually no symptoms until the advanced stages of cervical cancer. Through screening doctors can:
- If abnormal cells are identified during your PAP smear your doctor can treat it, effectively lowering your risk of developing cervical cancer.
- If HPV co-screening is requested, HPV can be detected even before changes can be seen on the cervix. Therefore, those at risk for cervical cancer can be identified early and monitored closely.
What are the screening guidelines?
|Under the age of 25 and 1 year after initial sexual intercourse||PAP smear every 2 – 3 years.|
|Between the ages of 25 and 29||PAP smear, with HPV co-testing every 2 – 3 years.|
|Between the ages of 30- and 65-years||Screening every 2 – 3 years. If there is no history of abnormal smears a PAP-smear is advised. If there is history of an abnormal smears, testing should include HPV testing.|
Where can I get screened?
PAP smears can be performed by a doctor or nurse, given they offer these services. The samples are sent to a pathology laboratory for examination.
On another note…
Anybody in need of cancer treatment must be aware that certain cancer treatments (e.g. chemotherapy or radiotherapy) can cause infertility. However, fertility can be protected through fertility preservation techniques, such as egg freezing.
Take Home Message: