Cervical cancer is the number three cause of cancer death among women. Fortunately, cervical cancer is preventable when detected at an early stage. The bad news is that it is uncommon to have symptoms of cervical cancer until cancer has spread and at that point, cancer often cannot be cured.
Cervical cancer is a very slow growing cancer that starts with precancerous cells on the lining of the cervix (the cervix is an organ at the lower part of the uterus and top of the vagina). When the precancerous cell is present in the lining of the cervix, the condition is known as dysplasia. It typically takes years for the precancerous cells to become cancerous.
If undetected, precancerous changes can develop into cervical cancer and spread to the bladder, intestines, lungs, and liver. Once cancer has spread outside the cervix, the likelihood of a cure becomes grim. If you have been mistreated or misdiagnosed, it is important to contact a cervical cancer misdiagnosis lawyer to begin the steps of building a case.
Preventing Cervical Cancer
Early detection is the key to preventing cervical cancer. A Pap smear is a test that checks for abnormal precancerous cells or cancerous cells on the lining of the cervix. The cells along the cervix are removed and sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope. If precancerous cells or cancerous cells are revealed by the Pap smear, the abnormal cells can be surgically removed.
When detected in the precancerous stage, the abnormal cells can be surgically removed before cervical cancer develops. Even when cancerous cells are present, cervical cancer can be cured if cancer has not spread beyond the wall of the cervix into the surrounding lymph nodes and organs.
Pap smears screen for precancers and cancer of the cervix, but it is not the final diagnosis. If abnormal changes are found, the cervix is examined under the microscope–this is called colposcopy. Most women that are diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had regular Pap smears.
The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians recommends that women have Pap smears once every two years between the age of 21 and 30, and once every three years after age 30 as long as the last three Pap tests were normal. Regular Pap smears are crucial to the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer as a cervical cancer misdiagnosis lawyer can attest.
Are There Any Vaccines That Prevent Cancer?
Of all forms of cancer, there is only one vaccine that prevents cancer: Gardasil is a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer. In June, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil which prevents infection against the two types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Cervical cancer is almost always caused by a virus known as HPV and the vaccine prevents you from acquiring HPV.
One word of caution: women who have been vaccinated against HPV’s still need to have regular Pap smears.
How Can You Lower Your Risk of Cervical Cancer?
The virus that causes cervical cancer, HPV, is a common virus that is spread through sexual intercourse. Some strains of HPV lead to cervical cancer. The risk factors for cervical cancer include multiple sexual partners, multiple partners who engage in high-risk sexual activities and low economic status (persons who can not afford regular Pap smears).
It’s really simple: if you choose to engage in sex with multiple partners, you are placing yourself at high risk for cervical cancer. Even if you only have sex with one person, but that person has had sex with many partners, you are essentially having sex with everyone that your partner has slept with.
Statistics That You Should Know
When cervical cancer is detected while the cancerous cells (usually squamous cells) are confined to the cervix, the statistical likelihood that you will be alive five years after the date of the diagnosis (known as the five-year survival rate) is 92%. This is the good news! Most of the time early cervical cancer has no symptoms.
The bad news is that, when cervical cancer is detected after the malignant cells have spread outside the cervix, the five-year survival rate is less than 50%. When symptoms begin, it is often too late. The symptoms of metastatic cervical cancer include continuous vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause and any bleeding after menopause.
The lesson is to have regular Pap smears every two-three years to check for the precancerous cells on the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. This is usually the only way to detect cervical cancer before it spreads.
Contact a Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer
Contacting a doctor if you feel any of the symptoms of cervical cancer is crucial. However, if you have been misdiagnosed, getting in touch with a cervical cancer misdiagnosis lawyer is important so you can get the right support.