(WTNH) — Dr. Linus T. Chuang, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology from Western CT Health Network, answers our questions on how women can take control of their health during Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
All too often, women place their needs and health behind priorities – be they children, aging parents, siblings or work commitments. What advice would you give a woman with a packed schedule?
- Health is wealth. You can’t be a effective in all your commitments unless you are strong and healthy.
- It’s important for a woman to have a trusted relationship with her gynecologist. Each woman is unique and her reproductive health is often an indicator of other metrics in her body. Most routine visits check for a woman’s overall health, including blood pressure.
Socially and medically great strides have been made in the area of female reproductive health, including cervical cancer awareness and treatment. Can you briefly explain this cancer and it symptoms?
- Cervical cancer occurs when cells in the cervix grow out of control.
- Symptoms may include: vaginal bleeding outside of menses; pelvic pain; foul-smelling discharge.
What causes cervical cancer?
- Most cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus, or more commonly referred to as HPV.
- This is a highly treatable cancer with high success rates of remission, especially if caught early.
What treatments are available for women?
- There are several treatment options available to women with cervical cancer, including minimally invasive surgery and more traditional therapies.
- However, this is a cancer that can be largely prevented.
- Regular gynecology visits will detect any cell changes through pap smears – now recommended every 5 years for women with no family or personal history of reproductive cancers.
- The HPV vaccine can also be administered to adolescent girls and boys, as well as young adult women up to age 26 and young adult men up to age 21. Many pediatricians offer the HPV vaccine.
There are some misconceptions surrounding the HPV vaccine. Please provide your medical insight regarding the vaccine.
- Administration of the HPV vaccine is a choice offered to parents of adolescents or young adults to protect them against infection of the human papillomalvirus and is covered by most insurances.
- Since 2006, incidences of teens with HPV-related illnesses have decreased by 64% in the United States.
- Adolescents up to the age of 14 need only be administered twice. Teens and adults who have not had the vaccine prior to age 14 will need to be administered 3 times.
- Few report negative side-effects and the life-long benefits of HPV vaccination are substantial.
For more information, visit www.wchn.org.