January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and we know how important it is supposed to be educated on this form of gynecologic cancer. While more women are getting preventive screenings to increase their chances of early detection, there are still many misconceptions about the disease. We’ve revealed the truth behind four of the most common cervical cancer myths. Shared below.
If You Have HPV, You Will Get Cervical Cancer
While HPV, or the human papillomavirus, can lead to cervical cancer, it does not mean you are guaranteed to develop cancer if you have the infection. HPV is passed between partners through sexual intercourse and is one of the most widespread viruses contracted by those who are sexually active. Typically, the virus is fought off by your immune system and goes away on its own. The vital thing to remember is that cell changes in the cervix due to HPV could cause cancer over time.
I’m Too Young to Worry About Cervical Cancer
Many women think that cervical cancer only impacts older women. While females over the age of 50 do have an increased risk, the average age of precancerous changes in the cervix is 29. After the age of 21, all women should receive regular cervical cancer screenings. As with any other form of cancer, prevention and early detection are of the utmost importance.
If I Have Cancer, I’ll Notice the Symptoms
Like many other types of cancer, the earliest stages of the disease may have no symptoms at all. People can experience pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, unusual vaginal discharge, swollen legs, pain in the back and legs, rectal bleeding, and blood in the urine, but these symptoms are often present themselves once the cancer has become more severe. This is why getting tested is critical even if you don’t have obvious symptoms. Finding cervical cancer before it has spread can increase your chances of successful treatment.
No One in My Family Had It, So My Risk is Lower
Cervical cancer is not proven to be inherited, so your family history has no bearing on your chances of developing it. Since HPV causes the disease, you are at risk when you become sexually active, even if you are just one partner. Because of this, cervical cancer can be avoided.
Regular Pap tests are extremely important in ensuring timely detection. Tell your doctor if you’re concerned about your cervical cancer risk or have questions about HPV.