January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
Article written by Jonelle Kimbrough
Fashion designer Liz Lange …
Author Judy Blume …
Actress Marissa Jaret Winokur …
What do these famous ladies have in common with nearly 13,000 American women every year?
They have been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. According to the National Cancer Institute, cervical cancer occurs when cells in the cervix – the lower part of the uterus – develop at an abnormal rate. In most cases, cervical cancer is caused by an infection of the human papilloma virus (HPV). Many adults become infected with HPV at some point in their lives, but the virus usually clears on its own. However, a persistent HPV virus coupled with other environmental and genetic factors increases one’s risk for cervical cancer.
Although cervical cancer may not present symptoms in its earliest stages, unusual vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain may indicate its presence and should be reported to one’s physician. Cervical cancer is most often diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 55, and it is one of the most common causes of cancer death in women in the United States, with about 4,000 women succumbing to the disease every year.
On a more positive note, over the last 30 years, the mortality rate for women with cervical cancer has decreased. Cervical cancer can be prevented in part with the HPV vaccine. Routine annual screenings, such as Pap tests, can detect the onset of cellular changes. More than 90% of cases can be detected early through these tests. In addition, a healthy lifestyle can strengthen one’s immune system and the body’s ability to fight disease.
Cervical cancer is very treatable if detected early. If a Pap test suggests the presence of abnormal cells, a biopsy of cervical tissue can provide a definitive diagnosis. If cancer is confirmed, treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The five-year survival rate is over 90% for women who detect and treat cervical cancer in its early stages.
Our hope at The V Foundation is that, with the help of the research we fund, every cervical cancer patient will one day join Liz, Judy and Marissa as a cervical cancer survivor and that the survival rate will be 100% for every person facing every cancer. We won’t give up.
We won’t ever give up.