These past couple of years have played a detrimental role in our health, greatly due to the COVID pandemic. Many things in our lives were cancelled or put on indefinite hold and, in many cases, we’re paying the high price for that now.
For example, cervical cancer is on the rise. Why all of a sudden is that the case? The rise is linked to the fact that many people put off both wellness visits and screenings during the pandemic. This is serious with dire consequences. Wellness visits can identify many abnormalities. And as we all know, early detection of any health issue can make the difference between good health and bad health, and in the case of cervical cancer, life and death.
The postponing of wellness visits was not ignored during COVID. The American Cancer Society, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and many other health care organizations all made statements stressing the importance and urgency of preventive care. The groups issued a joint letter urging people to “resume regular primary care checkups, recommended cancer screening…to lessen the negative impact the pandemic is having on identifying and treating people with cancer.”
Wellness visits include a Pap smear. A Pap smear checks for precancerous cells in a woman’s cervix. It’s recommended that women begin getting Pap smears at 21 and then every three years until the age of 30. From age 30 to 65, a Pap smear is recommended every five years. Obviously, if any abnormalities are discovered, they should be tested more frequently.
What about women over 65? In general, if no negative test results have occurred in the previous ten years, there is no need to continue with routine Pap smears. As always, there are exceptions though. For instance, sexually active women over 65 or those with a weak immune system may need to continue being tested.
Stage 4 cervical cancer cases have been found to be on the rise in the U.S. The University of California Los Angeles Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has researched the rise of stage 4 cervical cancer using data from 2001 to 2018 and published a study in the International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer showing an overall increase of 1.3% increase per year. The highest increase (4.5% annually) was in women in the South aged 40 to 44.
The times have changed. Prior to Pap smears becoming a routine wellness test, cervical cancer was one of the deadliest cancers. Today, 93% of early detected cases are preventable. You owe it to yourself to be one of that 93%. Contact us today to make your wellness appointment.
This information is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. Should you have any questions or would like to discuss wellness checks, please contact the staff at Parveen S. Vahora, MD. We are here to help.