Senior Care Observances: Cervical Health Awareness Month

Posted: 1/12/2016 9:57 AM by Interim HealthCare
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a health observation dedicated to educating women on the risks of cervical cancer and empowering them to take the proper steps to reduce their risk of developing the cancer, detect changes in the cervix before they develop into cancer, and manage the disease if it does arise. This month as you are looking forward to all of the opportunities that lie ahead with the New Year, make it a point to learn about this cancer and make the prevention and proactive care efforts part of ongoing senior care journey with your aging mother.

According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer was once one of the leading cancer-related causes of death for women in the United States. Over the last three decades, however, the rate of death associated with this cancer has been cut in half thanks to medical advances and increased knowledge of the cancer and how to prevent and detect it.

Some things that you should know about cervical cancer include:

• This type of cancer is highly preventable and treatable, particularly when caught very early

• Screenings that detect changes in the cervix can identify potential cancer before it develops, enabling doctors to start aggressive proactive treatments that prevent the serious disease from forming.

• Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus, or HPV, a virus that is estimated to affect at least half of the reproductive-age population and is spread through skin-to-skin and sexual contact.

• Cervical cancer often causes no symptoms, and if symptoms do occur they usually appear only after the cancer has entered into invasive stages and started to spread. Symptoms that may occur include abnormal bleeding from the vagina and unusual vaginal discharge.

• The symptoms of cervical cancer are often misinterpreted as being symptoms of another issue such as an infection, which makes it critical to always consult with a medical professional when you start to experience any unusual symptoms so that he can give a thorough exam and make a reliable diagnosis.

Fortunately, screening can detect early changes in the cervix that may indicate pre-cancerous stages so that doctors can start proper treatment. The American Cancer Society recommends these guidelines for taking a proactive stance in keeping your mother and yourself healthy:

• Cervical cancer screening should begin at the age of 21 with Pap smears performed every 3 years. Women under the age of 30 should only receive an HPV test if they receive abnormal PAP results.

• Between the ages of 30 and 65 women should receive a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years.

• Those women who are at increased risk of the cancer due to suppressed immune system, organ transplant, or certain infections should discuss more frequent screening with their healthcare team.

• Women who have had pre-cancerous conditions should continue testing through the age of 85. This is particularly true for those who have experienced CIN2 or CIN3, or had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix due to pre-cancer.

If you have an aging loved one in need of senior care contact Interim HealthCare today.