By Darla Carter, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal
When Mary Jo Payne hears about efforts to educate the public about cervical cancer, she thinks back to her own encounter with the disease at age 38.
For stage IIB cancer, Payne had surgery that lasted seven hours or more to remove the organs in her pelvic area, including her bladder and her rectum.
That was in the mid-’80s — years before the federal approval of HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer symptoms
Women with early cervical cancer usually don’t have symptoms. The following signs may arise when the cancer grows larger, but you could have a completely different problem. See your doctor to find out for sure.
-Abnormal vaginal bleeding. (This includes bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods; bleeding after sexual intercourse, douching or a pelvic exam; menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than before; bleeding after going through menopause.)
-Increased vaginal discharge.
-Pain during sex.
Source:National Cancer Institute
“If I had the chance to have that shot — the vaccine — I would do it without question to prevent anyone from going through this,” said Payne, who’s had additional surgeries through the years for related problems.
Now a novel Facebook application is being used to raise awareness about cervical cancer and ways to possibly avoid it, such as screening and vaccination.
Failure to have regular Pap tests can increase your risk of cervical cancer, so ask your doctor how often you should be screened. (Guidelines comparison chart: www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/pdf/guidelines.pdf)
Other possible risk factors:
– Giving birth to many children.
– Having many sexual partners.
– Having first sexual intercourse at a young age.
– Smoking cigarettes.
– Using oral contraceptives.
– Having a weakened immune system.
Source: National Cancer Institute
The app is part of the Cervical Cancer-Free Kentucky Initiative’s “Cause the Movement” campaign, which promotes education as well as prevention.
“We want to get the message (to) where we know people are getting their information, and Facebook, Twitter and websites are ‘The Thing,’ ” said Dr. Baretta R. Casey, director of the initiative, which is based at the University of Kentucky.
Read the entire article here.
Leave a Reply