Cervical Health Awareness Month: Plan Your Annual Well Woman Visit
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Cervical cancer is preventable, and highly treatable if caught early. While the National Cervical Cancer Coalition works throughout the year to help women take advantage of screenings that can detect early signs of cervical dysplasia (abnormal cell growth) or cancer, January is designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Over the last 30 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50 percent. Annual Well Woman visits are to be credited as increased use of screening tests during these exams finds changes in the cervix, known as dysplasia, before cancer develops, or can find cervical cancer early while it has a higher cure rate.
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the cause of most cases of cervical cancer. Vaccinations against HPV have been successful in preventing cancer from forming. According to the CDC, the most important thing any woman can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 21.
CERVICAL CANCER EVALUATION: TWO TESTS
The Pap test (or Pap smear) collects cells from the cervix. These cells are examined for changes that indicate possible pre-cancer or cervical cancer. The Pap test is recommended for women between ages 21 and 65, and can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may say you can wait three years until your next Pap test.
The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause cells to change. If you are 30 years old or older, you may choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test. Both tests can be performed by your doctor at the same time. If your test results are normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE DIAGNOSED WITH CERVICAL DYSPLASIA OR CANCER
The prognosis is excellent for women with cervical dysplasia who receive appropriate follow-up and treatment. But women who go undiagnosed or who don’t receive appropriate care are at higher risk of developing cervical cancer. Mild cervical dysplasia may resolve without treatment, requiring careful observation with Pap tests every three or six months. Moderate-to-severe cervical dysplasia, or mild cervical dysplasia that extends to two years requires treatment to remove the abnormal cells and reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
FIND A GYN SPECIALIST/ONCOLOGIST
If you are diagnosed with dysplasia or cancer of the cervix, uterus, or ovaries, it is important to find a GYN specialist who also specializes in oncology. The Center for Innovative GYN Care laparoscopic surgical specialists have dedicated their careers to the performance of minimally invasive GYN surgery for all gynecological conditions. Their advanced training and surgical volume means they have worked on a higher volume of cases, and more difficult cases. Increased surgical volume is important to develop and maintain surgical expertise, and with dysplasia and cancer, a minimally invasive specialist who focuses solely on surgery is essential.
Our surgeons assess dysplasia and cancer patients on a case-by-case basis to choose the best treatment option. There are many different types of treatment options, and the type of surgical procedure needed depends on the stage and grade of cancer.
If necessary, CIGC specialists only perform minimally invasive hysterectomies using the advanced technique DualPortGYN. CIGC co-founder Dr. Paul J. MacKoul, MD is also a leading board certified oncologist.
CIGC surgeons do not perform open hysterectomies, which are known to be painful, have a relatively high risk of complications, and have an extended recovery period. CIGC surgeons also do not perform robotic surgeries. Surgeries in which robotic technology performs the procedure is extremely expensive and has a high risk of complications.
BOOK A CONSULTATION
The CIGC state-of-the-art specialists are available at three locations in the DC metro area. Virginia patients can visit the Reston, VA location, and Saturday appointments are available. Maryland offices are located in Rockville, MD and Annapolis, MD.
GYN surgical specialists can often see women sooner because they are focused entirely on surgery. Each patient gets detailed, in depth attention from Dr. Natalya Danilyants, or Dr. Paul MacKoul. This personalized care helps patients understand their condition and the recommended treatment so that they can have confidence from the very start. Our surgeons have performed over 20,000 GYN procedures and are constantly finding better ways to improve outcomes for patients.
CIGC TRAVEL PROGRAM
Even if you are not from the DC area, many patients travel to The Center for Innovative GYN Care for our groundbreaking procedures. We treat women from around the world who suffer from complex GYN conditions.
Learn more in our travel program.