The stirrups... the speculum... the jelly that your gyno never seems to get totally cleaned up.
Yeah, Paps are a (somewhat literal) pain, but cervical cancer was once the number-one leading cause of cancer death in American, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now, thanks to Paps, which can ID issues before they become cancerous, it doesn't even crack the top 10.
Still, the American Cancer Society estimates that 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2018—31 percent of which will be fatal.
And the CDCreports that six out of every 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years.
(FYI, all women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old should be getting a Pap smear every three years from 21 to 30, and every five years from 30 to 65, according to the CDC.)
“In fact, one of the biggest risk factors of getting cervical cancer is not having had a Pap smear within the past five years," says Eloise Chapman-Davis, M.D., a gynecological oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian.
However, she notes that you shouldn’t just rely on a Pap to flag any issues. It's also important to watch out for cervical cancer symptoms, which can develop in cases of more developed cancer growths.
Translation: If you spot any symptoms of cervical cancer, it's worth talking to your gyno and getting checked out asap.
1. Totally Not-Normal Vaginal Bleeding“One of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer is vaginal bleeding, whether it’s in between your periods, after sex, or after menopause,” says Taraneh Shirazian, M.D., a gynecologist at NYU Langone Health. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is generally a symptom of advanced cervical cancer, because it means that a tumor on the cervix is spreading to affect nearby tissue, Chapman-Davis adds. Call your gyno asap.
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