The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus that opens into the vagina. The opening allows blood to flow out of the uterus during menstruation and widens during childbirth to allow a baby to pass from the uterus through the vagina. Cancer of the cervix can occur in women of any age. If detected early, the prognosis is very good.
KNOW THE RISK FACTORS
- having had a sexually transmitted disease
- having sexual intercourse before the age of 18
- having multiple sex partners
- having many pregnancies, starting at a young age
- having a mother who took DES when she was pregnant with you
RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- constant vaginal bleeding
- spotting between periods or bleeding after intercourse
- pelvic pain
- a thick or watery discharge from the vagina
- leakage of urine and feces through the vagina
- loss of appetite and weight loss
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- Have a yearly Pap smear test. This test detects cervical cancer 95 percent of the time. This simple test is done during a pelvic examination by a doctor or nurse practitioner. The physician or nurse gently scrapes the surface of the cervix to gather cells for analysis. A negative result means that the tissue is normal. A positive result means that there are some abnormal cells present.
- Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases on a regular basis, particularly if you or your partner have multiple sex partners.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit your number of sex partners.
- For multiple sexual relations, use barrier forms of birth control such as condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps.
- Contact your gynecologist if you are at high risk for this cancer.