11/30/2019

Basic Questions about Cervical Cancer Screening and Vaccines


In 2019, at least 11,000 Utah women received the grim diagnosis of cervical cancer. About 3,000 of those with the disease will die, according to the American Cancer Society.

Screening and vaccination are currently two of the effective ways to prevent it. To learn more about them, read these facts:

1. What Is the Success Rate of Cervical Cancer Screening?

Despite the number of new cases and deaths due to cervical cancer, the incidence declined. According to Cancer.net, it already dropped by 50% from 1975 to 2016. A significant part of it is due to early detection.

The website further shared that the five-year survival rate goes up to 92% if detected early. That is, even if the cancer is already invasive. Unfortunately, only 45% of them received a diagnosis while still at an early stage. Many factors can influence a woman's decision to see their doctor.

A 2009 study in BMJ also pointed out the impact of screening at different ages. It might have little to no bearing on the chances of developing cervical cancer for women between 20 and 24 years old.

It can be the most effective among older adult women. The research discovered a significant decrease in incidence and mortality. Cancer.net also mentioned that the disease is more common among females over 65 years.

Nevertheless, women can benefit from adult care in Lehi even if they're still young. Cancer can develop at any time. The sooner the doctor finds it, the better the outcome can be.

2. What Does the Vaccine Do, and Who Should Get It?

The vaccine for cervical cancer targets human papillomavirus (HPV). It is the virus that triggers the formation of the disease. Humans expose themselves to different strains of HPV, and not all of them will cause cervical cancer. This vaccine works on those people who can get through sexual contact.

Health experts recommend giving the vaccine to girls as young as 9 to 12 years old. This is because it can provide women with immunity, even before their bodies encounter the virus.

The vaccine is not ideal for people who are severely ill or pregnant women. It can be less effective once the individual already has the virus.

3. Is It Possible to Do an HPV Screening at Home?

Cervical cancer screening involves a pap smear test. In this procedure, a doctor collects swap samples in the cervix, as well as the vulva and the vagina. They then send these to the laboratory for investigation. It can take a few days or weeks before the patient hears the results.

It then makes people wonder if there's a faster, more economical way to detect the virus. A British study might have an answer. The research suggested that a home test for cervical cancer is possible. It can be just as effective as a pap smear.

It is promising since it means women can perform the test more often. It will involve less discomfort while screening is now more affordable and accessible. Note, however, that the study worked with only 600 women, which is a small group. The scientists also need to work on improving biomarkers. Whether this will be a standard "DIY test" in the future remains to be seen.

The saying "Prevention is always better than cure" is a cliché, but it's true for cervical cancer. With the information above, you'll learn the importance of screening and vaccination to better take care of your health.

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