Cervical cancer prevalence has dropped in recent years due to increased awareness and prevention tactics by women and women’s health providers. In 2012, more than 12,000 women received the diagnosis of cervical cancer, and 4,074 lost their lives, reports the Centers for Disease Control. Take a look at how awareness and advanced speculum design play a vital role in continuing this trend towards fewer lost lives and faster diagnoses.
Causes and Risk Factors For Cervical Cancer
HPV (human papillomavirus) is considered to the root cause of cervical cancer, explains MedlinePlus. With the exception of smoking, risk factors for cervical cancer involve the risk of exposure to HPV.
These risk factors, according to the Mayo Clinic, include the following:
- Multiple sexual partners.
- Early sexual activity.
- Having other sexually transmitted diseases or infections, such as HIV, chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.
- A weakened immune system.
This list in not comprehensive as some behaviors, such as engaging in substance or alcohol abuse, may lead to an increased risk for engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
Prevention of Cervical Cancer
Prevention of Cervical Cancer relies on routine screening during a woman’s health checkup. During the screening, women undergo a Pap test and HPV test, asserts MedlinePlus, which may be more accurate when using an LED vaginal illuminator. This type of tool allows women’s health providers to view potential growths and malformations with greater scrutiny.
Women should begin receiving Pap tests at 21-years-old, and Pap tests should be performed every other year, explains the Mayo Clinic. Pap tests give women’s health providers the opportunity to identify and monitor precancerous, cervical conditions. Therefore, allowing women to take preventative measures in the development of cervical cancer.
Women are advised to get the vaccine for HPV between ages 9 and 26. The vaccine has been shown to be most effective when given prior to initial sexual activity. Women should practice safe sex by reducing their number of sexual partners and using condoms. Smoking should be avoided.
Traditional Screening Versus Advanced Speculum Design
Unfortunately, traditional Pap tests carry risks, such as tears in vaginal tissue and inaccurate results. For women with excessive lateral wall tissue, a traditional speculum may hide potential cancerous areas by obstructing the view. Furthermore, a traditional speculum may carry pathogens from one woman to the next if not properly sterilized. However, modern, advanced speculum design gives women’s health providers a necessary resource for reducing these risks.
A speculum with a lateral wall retractor allows women’s health providers to reduce possible misdiagnoses by preventing obstructed views of the cervix. A disposable, clear speculum removes the possible threat of cross-contamination, and differing speculum sizes reduce discomfort during examination, which fosters routine screenings for at-risk women. If the screening warrants a biopsy, an LED vaginal illuminator ensures accuracy and efficiency during the procedure. Therefore, the design lessens the chances for repeat biopsies and additional medical tests due to provider-errors.
Although women have sexual options for minimizing exposure to cervical cancer-causing factors, women should always monitor their vaginal health. Early-stage cervical cancer rarely causes noticeable symptoms. If women experience pain during intercourse, unusual bloody discharge from the vagina, or bleeding after intercourse, they should contact their respective women’s health provider immediately, elucidates the Mayo Clinic. These symptoms indicate advanced-stage cervical cancer.
The importance of routine, accurate cervical screenings and examinations for cervical cancer cannot be understated. Advanced speculum design can mean the difference between early detection of precancerous cells and remorse due to advanced-stage cervical cancer.
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