At the start of the new year, it’s time to make some resolutions for yourself. Whether it is eating healthier or working out more, they always tend to revolve around making your body happier and healthier. One other resolution that every woman over the age of 21 should have that revolves around her health, though, is making an appointment with her gynecologist. While it’s not the stereotypical “I’m going to exercise for an hour everyday” type of resolution, visiting your doctor and getting a Pap test done is the #1 way to find signs of cervical cancer or HPV, and proves just as important for your overall health.
January is National Cervical Health Month for a reason: not enough people know about the risks and dangers of human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease, and it causes 99% of cervical cancer cases. This is why both males and females from the ages of 9 to 26 should receive the HPV vaccine to permit the STD from being spread during sexual activity. About 80% of women are exposed to HPV by the time they are 50, and most will not experience cervical cancer. But for those that do form cancerous cells in their cervix, it proves to be very detrimental and fatal. In fact, 1/3 of patients diagnosed with cervical cancer die every single year. It’s almost unbelievable to think about - but you don’t have to be part of that statistic.
When you finally make your appointment with your gynecologist, they will perform a Pap test on you. The Pap test takes swabs of the cervix and runs it through some tests. If there are any pre-cancer abnormalities, your doctor will notify you and you can immediately start treatment. If found early enough, treatment will cure the cancer before it rapidly starts forming in your cervix, and potentially spreading throughout other parts of your body. Once the cancer starts forming, though, it is a bit harder to treat. But with cervical cancer being the most preventable cancer due to HPV being preventable, the numbers of those diagnosed should be much less than what they are.
Over 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Half of those women admit that they had never had a Pap test done. This means that about 6000 women could have had their cancer treated before it became deadly, and now they have a 1 in 3 chance of dying. This is why the Pap test is so critical. If they see HPV or any type of precancerous activity happening in your cervix, treatment can and will start immediately. You don’t have to suffer if you don’t want to.
The visit with your gynecologist is never anticipated, but it is 100% necessary. With cervical cancer being the second most common cancer among women, a Pap test should be as regular as a mammogram is for detecting breast cancer. Make your new year’s resolution something that will last you a lifetime - make an appointment with your doctor and get a Pap test done.
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