Cancer

Cervical Cancer: 9 Symptoms to Know

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Symptoms to Look Out For

Consider all the strides that have been made fighting cervical cancer, you might think it’s a disease you don’t have to be worry about as much anymore. Decades ago, it was one of the major killers of women of childbearing age in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

But thanks to the development of the Pap test—the simple test that detects abnormal cervical cells before cancer develops—cervical cancer is now much less common. In fact, since Pap tests became a routine part of an ob-gyn checkup, the death rate from cervical cancer has plummeted by 50 percent, the American Cancer Society reports. (Though mortality rates are likely underestimated for some groups of women, like African Americans, reported a 2017 study in the journal Cancer.)

Another game changer was the discovery of HPV, or human papillomavirus, as the cause of cervical cancer. We now know that “over 99 percent of cervical cancers are caused by a persistent HPV infection,” says Mahboobeh Safaeian, PhD, MPH, director of clinical science, HPV, for Roche Molecular Systems. This has lead to “very good prevention measures, including vaccines and HPV testing that detects treatable pre-cancer,” she says.

Yet even with these advances, cervical cancer remains a serious threat to your health. More than 12,000 women will be diagnosed with it this year, and about 4,000 will die from it. That’s why, in addition to preventing the disease through HPV vaccination and regular HPV and Pap tests, it’s smart to be on the lookout for the symptoms of cervical cancer—which are often hard to spot. Read on for the 9 tip-offs every woman needs to be aware of.

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