Wednesday February 23, 2011
A recent study shows that second hand smoke increases the risk of abnormal pap smears. While second hand smoke was not proven to cause cervical cancer, it does prove to cause abnormalities in cervical tissue. In the study, the women who said they were exposed to some second hand smoke were 70 more likely to have an abnormal result.
Actively smoking has already been linked to increasing damage in the cervix caused by HPV. A concrete link between second hand smoke exposure and the cancer may not be a long way off. This study does not confirm a direct connection, but why take a chance?
Sunday December 27, 2009
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month
Although a healthy cervix is an unlikely addition to a woman's New Year's resolutions list, it is one that shouldn't be overlooked! The cervix may be a very small part of the body, but is vital organ in the female reproductive system. (See "What is a Cervix and Why Do I Need It?") Resolving to maintain and promote cervical health is one of the best resolutions any woman can make! Check out these simple ways to have a healthy cervix in 2010.
US Congress has desginated January as the "Cervical Health Awareness Month". This month we are called to raise awareness about cervical cancer for friends, family and also through media outlets. There are many thing a single person can do to help raise awareness about cervical cancer:
Write your local newspaper and news stations. Chances are that your local television news programs and newspapers are not covering Cervical Health Awareness Month. Why not? Well, most people don't know about it! Cervical Health Awareness Month is relatively new and word hasn't spread - just yet. Writing your local media about the month and requesting coverage is a great way to raise awareness and reach a large number of people.
Friday November 20, 2009
For those at average risk of breast and cervical cancer, it has been a busy week! Last week new, more lenient mammography guidelines were recommended, stirring up controversy among cancer organizations and political cynics. Today, we see changes in cervical cancer screening guidelines, issued by The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). Like the updated mammography guidelines, ACOG is recommending less Pap smear tests for women of average risk of cervical cancer. Women who have had abnormal cervical screenings should continue to follow their doctors recommendations as the new guidelines only apply to women of average risk.
New Guidelines Suggest:
- Women should have their first period at age 21. Old guidelines recommended women have their first Pap when they become sexually active or at age 21 -- whichever came first.
- Women in their 20's should have a Pap smear every two years, instead of annually. Women in their 30's and have had three consecutive normal Pap smears should have undergo screening every three years.
- Women 65-70, who have have three normal Pap smear results consecutive and no abnormal findings in 10 years, can discontinue screenings altogether if they choose.
- Women who have undergone a total hysterectomy due to a noncancerous condition and have not had previously abnormal Pap smears can also discontinue screenings.
Shouldn't We Be Screening More Often?
Unlike a lot of cancers, cervical cancer is very slow growing. It can take up to 8-10 years for cervical cancer to develop. New guidelines give ample time to catch any cases of cervical pre-cancer before it progresses into cancer. Conspiracy theorists argue that these new guidelines for cancer screenings are among a grand plan by the Obama administration to cut costs for healthcare reform. I completely disagree. There have been talks of updating guidelines for years now. Medically, it makes perfect sense to increase the time between Pap smears and there isn't a huge debate among cancer organizations about the new changes. Now, the breast cancer screening debate is a whole different ballgame. Check out About.com's Breast Cancer site's heated discussion about the new changes.
Sunday November 1, 2009
Anal cancer has been put in the spotlight with Farrah Fawcetts's battle with the disease. What many people are starting to learn is that a common virus, HPV, is a major risk risk factor for developing anal cancer.
HPV is a virus transmitted thorugh sexual contact and it is estimated that over 20 million Americans are infected. There are over 100 different types of HPV, however only a few are responsible for cancer development. HPV is also the leading cause of cervical cancer, a disease that plagues of 9,000 American women each year. The good news is that most cases of HPV clear up on their own before progressing to cancer. However, a regular Pap smear is needed to monitor any changes in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer. The bottom line is that if you don't get a Pap smear, you are more at risk of developing cervical cancer.