How to prevent cervical cancer?

We women should go to our gynecologist every year so that they can look at us.

Yadira Méndez Feliciano, gynecologist-obstetrician. Photo: Supplied.

Prevention is key when it comes to reducing the risk of suffering from various diseases. When it comes to cervical cancer, annual medical exams play an important role in fighting this or other conditions that affect women’s health.

The American Society Against cancer describes cervical cancer or cervical cancer as a disease that “originates in the cells that line the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (womb)” and occurs when these cells grow out of control. “Cancer cervical is a cancer that develops into what is the cervix, which is part of the uterus. This cancer in more than 90% of cases develops as a result of a virus known as the human papilloma virus (HPV) and that it is a sexually transmitted virus by definition”, explained the gynecologist-obstetrician Yadira Méndez Feliciano.

The importance of a medical exam

In addition to HPV, a sexual history, smoking, or having a weak or compromised immune system could be risk factors. risk for cervical cancer. But for Dr. Méndez Feliciano, the main reason for contracting this disease is not going to the doctor for annual check-ups. “The biggest risk factor for cervical cancer is not having the check-ups or not having the exam with the gynecologist: the Papanicolaou (PAP). It goes above smoking, promiscuity and it goes above any other factor. Sure, if we have one. patient with an immune system weak as the patients with HIV or diabetes that they are well committed, that increases them. But nothing is going to be worse than not being evaluated by a gynecologist and getting a PAP test,” warned the specialist who works at the San Lucas Episcopal Medical Center in Ponce.

Yadira Méndez Feliciano, gynecologist-obstetrician. Photo: Supplied.

Not all women have symptoms related to cancer of cervix. Some may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or bleeding after intercourse, Pain during intercourse, pain in the pelvic area, among others. Usually these are signs of possible cancer that is manifesting in the body. “We see symptoms that give you suspicion such as bleeding after intercourse or uterine vaginal bleeding. But when it gets to that point it is because there is already a cancer which is possibly visible and palpable. The virus causes changes in the cervix from precancerous cells to later transformation. And all this is asymptomatic. So that’s why the importance of prevention, because cancer of the cervix is ​​one of the preventable cancers that we have”, said the gynecologist-obstetrician.

screening tests

Precisely, the objective of carrying out screening tests such as the Pap smear (which is recommended to be done every five years) and the HPV test is to find precancerous changes and identify the disease in time to carry out treatment and prevent its development. “The Pap smear is a screening or screening test. Along with the physical exam is the test we have. Once we do this test and if altered cells come out, then one can proceed with what is formally a biopsy. The PAP today is no longer something that has to be done every year. But we should not confuse that the PAP does not have to be done every year with the fact that the physical exam should be done every year. So all women must go every year to our gynecologist or gynecologist so that he can look at us”, Méndez Feliciano pointed out.

vaccine to protect

Another form of prevention is vaccination against human papilloma virus Although it is not a treatment for cervical cancer, it protects against various strains of HPV that are possible causes of this type of cancer. “We must emphasize to the population that from 11 or 12 years old to 45 years old, both men and women can be vaccinated against HPV because we have managed to obtain a vaccine that fights the virus and reduces 90% of cervical cancers. ”, indicated the interviewee.

The gynecologist also stressed the importance of visiting the gynecologist annually and leading a healthy lifestyle. “Also don’t stop visiting your gynecologist. I have patients who, because they gave birth 10 years ago, have not seen a gynecologist for 10 years. And then we find them with precancerous cells. So do not stop doing the PAP, do not stop going to the gynecologist. An exam once a year to make sure that everything is fine and to try to maintain a lifestyle that is as healthy as possible, eating well and exercising so that the immune system is strong and one can fight against this virus”, concluded the doctor.

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