Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category
According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, 70% of all adults have been infected with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the virus that leads to cervical cancer and genital warts. Fortunately, the majority of these individuals do not develop cervical cancer or warts. Often, their body’s immune system will naturally suppress the virus. However, for those whose body’s do not, knowing how to detect cancer early can make the difference between life and death.
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Since the 1940’s the National Cervical Cancer Coalition credits early detection tests with a 70% reduction in deaths from cervical cancer. As soon as a woman reaches the age of 21, she should begin getting regular pap tests, a test that looks at the cellular growth of the cervix. If abnormal cellular growth is detected, further testing may be required with a test called a colposcopy. Recent guidelines now advise that women, who have normal pap tests, may be able to have less frequent pap tests. This is something that needs to be discussed with their health care provider.
Furthermore, unlike the 1940’s, there are two vaccines now available that have the potential of greatly reducing risk and incidence of cervical cancer. It is recommended for girls and boys to get the vaccine between the ages of 11-26. Regular use of condoms during sexual activity can also greatly reduce the risk. However, HPV is transmitted skin to skin and no intercourse is actually necessary to spread the virus.
Unfortunately, HPV infection is often symptomless and an individual is unaware that they are infected. For this reason it is important for women to get regular cervical checks with a healthcare provider. Every Friday from 8:30-3, Lebanon Family Health Services offers a walk-in-clinic for individuals to receive any of our medical services. One service that is available is gynecological exams offered free or low cost based on household size and income. As part of Cervical Health Awareness Month, take the first step in preventing cervical cancer. Call our office to schedule an appointment-273-6741 or stop in during Friday walk-in clinic times.
By Lebanon Family Health Services
Recently, the American Cancer Society released a hopeful report that stated that death rates from breast cancer have dropped 34% since 1990. This sharp decrease is a strong testament to the steadfast efforts of health advocates working to promote national and local awareness campaigns about the importance of early detection and increased research for breast cancer. Each year, this is evident in the month of October as we recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
While we celebrate this progress, the fact remains that breast cancer is still the most common cancer diagnosed among women, only being surpassed by skin cancer. In fact, breast cancer accounts for 1 in 3 of all cancers diagnosed in women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 40,000 women die each year from breast cancer even though it is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
Therefore, this month we must celebrate and build on the lessons we have learned over the past couple decades. This means continuing to spread the word about the importance of early detection and supporting efforts that have aided countless women to take control of their personal health. This starts with knowing the common signs and symptoms of breast cancer, such as:
- New lumps or a lump in your breast that has changed
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Pain in the breast or nipple that does not go away
- Flaky, red, or swollen skin anywhere on the breast
- A nipple that is very tender or that turns inward
- Blood or any other type of fluid coming from the nipple (not breast milk)
Along with knowing the common signs, practicing basic health and wellness is essential. By staying physically active with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol consumption a woman can reduce her risk for developing breast cancer. Furthermore, if you are over the age of 50, you should be getting a routine mammogram. Finally, carefully discussing with your healthcare professional the costs and risks associated with using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) at menopause is an essential component in maintaining breast health.
For over 40 years, Lebanon Family Health has been a local resource for women to diagnose breast cancer at its early stages and as a result, has aided them in seeking treatment. During the month of October, help support our continued efforts to combat breast cancer by participating in our “Pink Drink” campaign. Throughout the county, various establishments are supporting this initiative by selling their featured “Pink Drink” and collecting $1 donations from their patrons. A portion of all proceeds will assist us in continuing to bring these lifesaving practices to the women of Lebanon County.
Ovarian cancer is often dubbed “The Silent Killer” because it typically goes undetected until it has progressed into later stages. Sadly, only 19% of ovarian cancers are detected in the early stages according to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. The signs and symptoms of this silent killer are often described as being vague and therefore dismissed as a mild discomfort or an annoying illness. As a result, this cancer is typically detected by healthcare providers in the later stages when women are usually experiencing more severe symptoms and the condition is dire.
While the symptoms of ovarian cancer may be vague, it is important to know what they are. More importantly, it is important to note that the persistent occurrence of these symptoms is more of a key indicator of the condition. As a general rule, if a woman experiences some of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks, she should contact her healthcare provider:
- Bloating, upset stomach or heartburn
- Pelvic/abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Menstrual changes, frequent urination or constipation
- Pain during sex
While family genetics does play a role in ovarian cancer, only 5-10% of ovarian cancers have a genetic link. Therefore, all women should be aware of the symptoms and have an annual pelvic exam as part of their personal healthcare plan. Ovarian Cancer is detected after a woman experiences the above symptoms on a persistent basis and a healthcare provider begins to notice a change in the size of the ovary through a rectovaginal pelvic exam. If ovarian change is suspected, a transvaginal sonogram or a blood test called a CA-125 may be ordered. However, it is important to note that the “Pap Test” does not detect ovarian cancer. Pap tests detect the early stages of cervical cancer.
For over 40 years, Lebanon Family Health has been helping women to take control over their personal healthcare with affordable access to annual pelvic exams and pap test screenings. We offer free and low cost services based on income and accept some insurance plans. Making an annual well-woman exam is something all women can do to take control of her personal health. Call 273-6741 to schedule an appointment or visit our web site at www.lebanonfamilyhealth.org.