5 Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Cervical Cancer Prevention
Cervical cancer is easily detectable and completely preventable provided it is caught at its early stage of development. Wondering what steps you can take to reduce the risk? The first step would be talking to your health care provider. Here is a list of questions that you should be asking your health care provider regarding cervical cancer prevention.
How do I know that I am at risk of cervical cancer?
You can watch for some warning signs like spotting or bleeding in between periods, pain during sex, bloody discharge, or bleeding even after menopause. These symptoms may not always be due to cervical cancer. They may be a sign of an underlying infection also. Consult your doctor to know the actual cause of these signs and symptoms.
Can I prevent cervical cancer?
Yes, you can. Regular screening tests are the most effective way of preventing cervical cancer. The most common screening test conducted is a Pap Smear and HPV test.
While Pap Smear finds out if any abnormal cells are present at the cervix or not, HPV test confirms the strain of the Human Papilloma Virus (if present) at the cervix. Getting vaccinated is highly recommended for preventing HPV infection. You can always ask your doctor the frequency of the HPV vaccination. Apart from that, living a healthy lifestyle, having a balanced diet, and quitting the habit of smoking are other tips to prevent cervical cancer.
If I have an HPV infection, will I end up with cervical cancer?
Not necessarily. In most cases, the infection is taken care of by the body’s immune system and gets resolved within two years. It is essential to find out the strain of HPV that has infected you. HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the ones that are mostly responsible for cervical cancer. When you consult your doctor, you will be recommended measures to manage HPV infection.
What are the treatments available? Do they have side effects?
Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and targeted therapy are the most common treatment approaches that can be used as a single option or in combination with each other. Depending upon your condition, your doctor will explain the kind of treatment that is ideal for you. Ask your doctor about the side effects that you may experience as you need to prepare yourself ahead of time. Your doctor may suggest you consult a nutritionist for an optimum diet that can replenish the vitamins and minerals you may tend to lose during the course of your treatment.
What is the survival rate in cases of cervical cancer?
The survival rate depends on the extent to which cancer has spread. A 92 per cent survival rate has been reported in cases where the cancer is limited to the cervix and uterus only. This means that a woman with cervical cancer is 92 percent likely to live for the next 5 years as compared to a woman without cervical cancer. Your health care provider would be able to assess the case and give a clearer picture regarding the survival rate.
Taking care of your cervical health is essential to prevent any future mishaps. Make use of different screening tests to be on the safer side. Remember that each of us are different from the other. Hence, you need to discuss your specific situation and health status with your health care provider so that you can get the treatment that is unique and most suitable for you.
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- Rerucha, C. M., Caro, R. J., & Wheeler, V. L. (2018). Cervical Cancer Screening. American family physician, 97(7), 441–448. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29671553/
- Burd E. M. (2003). Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. Clinical microbiology reviews, 16(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.16.1.1-17.2003
- PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Cervical Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version. 2021 Aug 24. In: PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US); 2002-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK65985/