January is Cervical Health Awareness Month in the United States. More than 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year, but the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening. As always, it is best to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns regarding your cervical health.
During January, many cancer prevention and treatment organizations across the country highlight issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease, and the importance of early detection. The CDC lists two tests that help prevent cervical cancer through early detection: the Pap test (or Pap smear) and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test.
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
Less invasive methods of diagnosing cervical cancer include CT scans, PET/CT scans, or MRI. CT scans may be performed to locate a tumor before surgery and/to determine tumor size, what other organs might be affected, and whether lymph nodes are enlarged. A PET/CT scan can reveal information about both the structure and function of cells and tissues in the body during a single imaging session. A PET/CT scan may detect the spread of cervical cancer to nearby lymph nodes and to other organs, such as the lungs or liver. An MRI is used to determine whether cervical cancer involves the bladder, rectum, or tissues next to the cervix. Sometimes this test is ordered instead of or in addition to a CT scan.
Doctors recommend patients start getting Pap tests starting at age 21 and HPV vaccinations for preteens aged 11 to 12 years. The vaccine is also recommended for everyone through age 26 if they are not vaccinated already.
Aside from cervical cancer, HPV also causes cancer of the vagina and vulva in women; cancers of the penis in men; as well as cancers of the anus and back of the throat (oropharynx). While there is screening for cervical cancer, there are no routine screening tests for these other types of HPV-related cancers, so they often are not detected until they cause health problems.
Cervical cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The American Cancer Society provides an in-depth list of treatment options depending on the stage of cancer.
To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them. Contact us at [email protected] for assistance.