The American Cancer Society estimates that 13,240 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed within the United States in 2018. Fortunately, with the development and utilization of pap smears as an effective screening method for the disease, cervical cancer has become a highly preventable disease. It is recommended for women to begin getting pap smears at age 21 (or when they become sexually active) and keep receiving them every three years until the age of 30. After 30 years of age, women should get screened every five years, unless they have had a history of cervical health problems or other medical issues, which should be discussed with their physician. After the age of 65, it is okay for women to stop getting screened, unless they have had any serious pre-cancers found in the last 20 years or they are still sexually active with new partners.
The main symptom of cervical cancer is post-coital bleeding, with other, less common symptoms being abdominal pain or foul-smelling discharge—which usually only present in advanced stages of cancer.
Almost all cervical cancer cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Therefore, another effective method of preventing the disease is to receive the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is most effective when given before an individual becomes sexually active. The optimal age for females and males to receive the HPV vaccine is between eleven to twelve years and is safe for individuals as young as nine.
Cone Health Cancer Center understands the importance of screening to prevent and/or detect cervical cancer early. Therefore, the network regularly offers free cervical cancer screenings to individuals throughout the community who cannot afford to see their physician. Cone Health Cancer Center also holds a monthly GYN Care Group, which is a support group for women who are or have been in treatment for gynecological cancer. To find out more about the screenings and support group, click here.
Dr. Emma Rossi originates from Brisbane, Australia, where she completed her undergraduate and medical school training at the University of Queensland. She completed an OBGYN residency at Northwestern University in Chicago, followed by a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Following fellowship, Dr. Rossi served as assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Indiana University where she was an interim fellowship program director in gynecologic oncology. In 2015, she returned to the UNC-Chapel Hill where she is faculty and assistant professor with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.