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January 22, 2013- Prevent cervical cancer one Pap smear at a time

DETROIT ­– This year alone, 13,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. Of those women, nearly a third will die.

Half will be between the ages of 35 and 55.

Cervical cancer is a slow-growing disease that is formed in the tissues of the cervix, but can be found and treated very easily through routine Pap smears.

“Cervical cancer is a progressive disease - it does not form overnight," said Dr. L. Andrea Coleman, chief of OB/GYN at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital. "Having Pap smears with regularity is important in order to detect abnormalities that may indicate early stages of cervical cancer."

These abnormalities don’t usually bear any symptoms, but when the cervical cells transform into cervical cancer, there can be many signs. These can include pain during intercourse, bleeding from the vaginal area, a change in menstrual cycle and a vaginal discharge with traces of blood. Advanced symptoms of cervical cancer can include back and leg pain, fatigue and also a loss in appetite.

Cervical cancer is most commonly the result of the human papiloma virus (HPV). Dr. Coleman recomments that both young girls and boys be vaccinated against HPV in order to help protect women from developing cervical cancer later on in life. Coleman also recommends that women get a Pap smear annually after the age of 21 or after the start of sexual activity. After three consecutive normal Pap smears, the test can be spaced out to every 2-3 years, she said.

National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is here, and the gynecologists at Sinai-Grace are dedicated to help detect, prevent and provide treatment to all women. Appointments are available at both the professional building on campus at 6071 W. Outer Drive in Detroit and at the Lahser campus at 27207 Lahser in Southfield. Contact your Sinai-Grace gynecologist today to make a Pap smear appointment at (313) 966-4800.

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