Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: Women urged to get routine screenings
For the Tomahawk Leader
WISCONSIN – January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and Aspirus Health is reminding women how important routine screenings are in the diagnosis of cervical cancer.
“Routine screenings can help detect cancer and precancerous lesions early, and save lives,” said Dr. Joelle Wennlund, an Aspirus Women’s Health Specialist in Woodruff. “Understanding the risk factors and detection methods for cervical cancer are crucial to early detection.”
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2019 an estimated 13,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 4,250 died from the disease.
Stopping cancer with screening
Aspirus said most cervical cancers start with precancerous changes that gradually turn into cancer. Screening can find these abnormal changes, which doctors can then treat, stopping cancer from developing.
“There are usually no symptoms, but thanks largely to the increased use of the Pap test and pelvic exam; the cervical cancer death rate has declined by more than 50 percent over the last 40 years,” Aspirus stated.
“For some women, the HPV test may also be included, based on risk factors and their age,” said Dr. Wennlund.” “The Pap test looks for cell changes and abnormal cells, while the HPV test looks for the virus that causes cell changes. Precancerous changes and most early cervical cancers are asymptomatic which is why routine screening is so important.”
Aspirus Health recommends talking with your primary care provider to determine the best screening schedule based on your risk factors. (The American Cancer Society advises that women of average risk get a Pap test every three years, starting at age 21.)
For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wennlund, call 715-356-8140. Appointments also can be made online at www.myaspirus.org or by using the MyAspirus App.