In the United States alone, there are more than 12,000 new cases and thousands die each year from cervical cancer, a disease for most women that can be prevented.
"I had a major blood clot and then abdominal pain," says Debbie Rahmoeller. "Abdominal pain wouldn't go away, went to the doctors and they couldn't find anything. Had all these tests done and even went to the emergency room -- couldn't find anything."
The early stages of cervical cancer may be completely asymptomatic. Sometimes vaginal bleeding, or (rarely) a vaginal mass may indicate the presence of malignancy. Also pain during sexual intercourse and vaginal discharge are symptoms of cervical cancer. In advanced disease, sometimes cancer can spread to abdomen or lungs.
Rahmoeller has been a survivor for 15 years. She had cervical cancer back in 1998 and after several hospital visits, they found what was wrong.
"The DNC instrument is what found the nodule or cancer of my cervix," says Rahmoeller. "I was very, very fortunate that it was in the pre-stage to stage one time period. - So it didn't spread
Prevention: screening exams, use of condoms, nutrition and vaccinations.
Debbie caught the cancer soon enough before it progressed and spread. Surgery was needed, but she did avoid chemotherapy and radiation.
Not all causes of cervical cancer is known, but HPV is one of the most influential causes of cervical cancer followed by smoking.
These infections are common with sexually transmitted diseases and is spread through skin-to-skin contact.
Screening with a pap smear has reduced the chances of getting cervical cancer and mortality by 75 percent. It is recommended women ages 21-65 years old should get regular pap smears.
Safe sexual health and abstinence play a role in preventing HPV to spread. Getting vaccines against HPV 16 and 18 can also prevent cervical cancer by more than 70 percent.
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