BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Cervical cancer impacts more than 13,000 women each year and approximately 4,000 die from it annually.
Dr. Amy Awaida at the Hope Center for Cancer Care in Boardman said doctors use a Pap smear test to detect any changes in the cells of the cervix. She recommends women start getting screened after the age of 21 and do so every three years until age 29. After that, screening should be done every three to five years.
“It usually takes about five to seven years from early changes seen in cells before it will develop into cancer. Therefore, with the Pap smear, you are able to detect those early changes, eradicate it and prevent your chance of cervical cancer down the line,” Awaida said.
If cervical cancer is detected early, it is one of the most successfully treatable cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer death rates in the United States have declined by more than 50 percent in the last 30 years. Most research points to the effectiveness of screening.
The leading cause of cervical cancer is HPV (human papillomavirus). There is a vaccine available to protect against HPV. Vaccination is available for girls and women ages 9 to 26.
Other behavioral causes, such as smoking, are also linked to cervical cancer
“Smoking can increase your risk for cervical cancer. Smoking cessation, or not smoking, is just one way of decreasing your risk,” Awaida said.