January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. To help raise awareness around cervical health and cervical cancer, this is the first of a two-part blog post series on the topic. Before we dig deeper into cervical cancer types and risk factors, here a few cervical health-related statistics you should be aware of:
- Cervical cancer was previously the leading cancer-related cause of death for women in the U.S. In the last 40 years, however, the number of deaths from cervical cancer has dropped. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) & CDC, the decline is largely “the result of many women getting regular Pap tests, which can find cervical precancer before it turns into cancer.”
- Approximately 10,800 new cases of HPV-related cervical cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
- Greater than 70% of all cervical cancers (carcinomas) were squamous cell type, and nearly 20% were adenocarcinomas, between 1998-2003.
Cervical Cancer Types
Squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma are the two types of cervical cancer. Each type is distinguished based on its appearance under a microscope. Both squamous cell and adenocarcinoma begin in the cells that line hollow organs, but squamous cells have a thin, flat appearance while adenocarcinomas involve cells with secretory functions. As is noted in the statistic above, the squamous cell carcinoma type of cervical cancer is far more common and currently makes up approximately 90% of cervical carcinoma cases. Both types have similar risk factors, prognoses, and treatments.
Cervical Cancer Risk Factors
According to the CDC, “almost all cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV),” which is why it is so important that parents and young women understand their options for getting vaccinated to protect themselves from typically symptomless HPV. Emory Healthcare will be hosting an online chat on the topic of cervical cancer and HPV. The chat will cover everything from cervical cancer prevention and diagnosis to treatment options, along with information on the relationship between HPV and cervical cancer.
As is the case the with all cancers, smoking increases your risk. Take steps to quit smoking today.
Having given birth to three or more children or having been on birth control pills for over 5 years can increase your risk for cervical cancer.
In our next post on cervical cancer, we’ll cover its connection to the HPV virus, including more information on the HPV vaccine and its effectiveness and the relationship between various HPV strains and cervical cancer. In the meantime, if you have questions on the topic of cervical cancer, or something you want to see covered in our next post, let us know in the comments section below!