Early detection of cervical problems is the best way to prevent cervical cancer. Routine, annual pelvic examinations and Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions that often can be treated before cancer develops. Invasive cancer that does occur would likely be found at an earlier stage. Women who are or have been sexually active, or are age 18 or older, should have regular checkups, including a pelvic exam and Pap test.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
A pelvic exam and Pap test allow the physician to detect abnormal changes in the cervix. If an infection is present, it is treated and the Pap test is repeated at a later time. If the exam or Pap test suggests something other than an infection, a repeated Pap test and other tests are performed to determine the problem. Women who have had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus, including the cervix) should ask their physician's advice about having pelvic exams and Pap tests.
The second way to prevent cervix cancer is to have testing (including a Pap test) to detect HPV and precancers. Treatment of precancers can stop cervical cancer before it is fully developed. Most invasive cervical cancers are found in women who have not had regular Pap tests.
Because certain strains of HPV have been found to cause most cases of cervical cancer, research efforts have focused on developing a vaccine against HPV. Two HPV vaccines have been developed, and clinical trials of these vaccines have been successful. According to a study published in April, 2005, one of the vaccines was 89 percent effective in preventing infection by four particular strains of HPV and 100 percent effective in preventing cervical cancer, precancerous lesions or genital warts. This vaccine was submitted for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in early 2006. The other vaccine is to be submitted for regulatory approval in Europe in 2006.
Risk factors for Uterine cancer
The following have been suggested as risk factors for uterine cancer:
- age 50 or over
- history of endometrial hyperplasia
- estrogen replacement therapy (ERT)
- being overweight
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- history of other cancers
- history of taking tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment or prevention
- Caucasian women
Uterine Cancer Symptoms
The following are the most common symptoms of uterine cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
- difficult or painful urination
- pain during sexual intercourse
- pain in the pelvic area
Cancer of the uterus often does not occur before menopause. It usually occurs around the time menopause begins. The occasional reappearance of bleeding should not be considered simply part of menopause. It should always be checked by a physician.
The symptoms of uterine cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult a physician for diagnosis.