I’ve talked about a lot of things on this blog. About women’s mental health, about men’s prostate cancer, about being raped when I lived in Japan and my thyroid problems. It hasn’t always been bad. I’ve also talked about how wonderful it was to raise money to fight back against cancer and the angels that helped me do it. Now it’s time to talk about something I’ve never covered before—cervical cancer.
It’s Cervical Health Awareness Month. I have to be honest. I’ve never had it, but I’ve known many people who have had tumors and have had their ovaries or cervix removed because of them. In fact, I was so aware of this being a problem for women that I read a book about Fran Drescher’s experience having gynecological cancer.
Her book and website is called Cancer Schmancer and is about how it took eight different doctors over two years of symptoms to finally diagnose her uterine cancer. Most of us don’t have the time, money or tenacity to go through that yet if we’re diagnosed early enough, gynecological cancers are some of the most treatable of all kinds of cancer.
Her website lists some risk factors and warning symptoms of gynecologic cancer which she got from the American Cancer Society and The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation.Risk Factors:
· I am not getting screened regularly with a Pap test
· I am at high-risk for human papilloma viruses (HPV)
· I smoke
· I am very overweight
· I eat a diet high in fat
· I am a woman older than age 60
· I started menstruating at an early age—before age 12
· I take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugsWarning Symptoms:
· Indigestion, heartburn, nausea, or gas
· Abdominal swelling or discomfort
· Pelvic pain or cramping
· Bloating or a sense of fullness, even after small meals
· Painful, frequent, or burning urination with no infection
· Diarrhea or constipation
· Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss or gain
· Vaginal bleeding or irregular periods
· Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge after menopause
· Pain during intercourse
During November, we talked about prostate cancer as men grew their moustaches. Now it’s time to think about our cervixes, ladies. Are we taking care of them? Some things we have control over, like whether we smoke or eat fatty foods, but other things it may be too late to prevent.When researching this blog, I found out at the American Cancer Society website that women who have had 3 or more full-term pregnancies have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. Also women who were younger than 17 when they had their first full-term pregnancy are almost 2 times more likely to get cervical cancer than women who waited to get pregnant until they were 25 years or older.
If you are one of those women, or have risk factors or symptoms above, see your doctor and get a pap smear. You may also need to get a biopsy if you have the symptoms. Just don’t wait!God Bless and have a good weekend.