In the realm of cancer and cancer treatment, the good news is that the rates of cervical cancer are down in the United States, however, the rates in developing nations are still staggeringly high. While this is not good news for those in developing nations, yet, the good news is that the tactics and efforts employed in the United States have proven to be effective at reducing the rate of cervical cancer as well as the morbidity of those diagnosed. Join us in today’s post as we offer an overview of cervical cancer and the efforts used to reduce cases and deaths caused by cervical cancer around the world.
Cervical cancer is cancer that affects the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina — of women. The problem with cervical cancer is that you can not see it without an exam and many women have no symptoms in the early stages. Once a woman begins experiencing symptoms, cancer has already reached late stages and may have metastasized to other parts of the body. Historically, cervical cancer was one of the leading causes of death for women of childbearing age and was the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women.
In the 1950s, the implementation of the Papanicolaou (Pap) smear helped reduce the incidence and morbidity rates decline by more than 74%. Cervical cancer can often be detected in its precancerous stages in routine Pap smears. In the United States and other developed countries, the Pap smear has been standard preventative practice and successful at diagnosing at treating cervical concerns before they become dangerous.
The bad news is that around the world, more than a million women are living with cervical cancer. 85% of these cases could have been prevented with human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, Pap smear, and access to medical care. More than 300,000 women will die this year from cervical cancer, which is known to be one of the most preventable and treatable cancers.
There are a number of factors that contribute to a successful women’s reproductive health management plan, including fertility and infertility care, prenatal and postpartum care, contraceptives, vaccinations, breast cancer screening, hormone control, diet and exercise education, chronic disease management, and general women’s health management. These topics can (and are) the topics for entire textbooks and field of study. Today, we will focus specifically on the guidance, recommendation, and importance of routine vaginal exams and Pap smears in the reduction of cervical cancer.
Reducing Cervical Cancer Risk With Routine Screening
In 2018, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force released a final publication with findings and recommendations for cervical cancer screening. New recommendations are to screen women who have a cervix every three years beginning at age 21 to 29 unless otherwise warranted, and every five years for women aged 0 to 65.
For many women, the change in recommendations is noticeable, whereas previous recommendations were to receive a Pap smear every other year once she reaches coitarche (engagement in sexual intercourse). The change comes as a result of HPV vaccination, which prevents more than 83% of cervical cancers. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for screening and treatment for women in nations without access to reliable healthcare, treatment, or follow-up options gives priority to women between the ages of 30 and 45, with recommendations to vaccinate as many women and girls as possible with the HPV vaccine.
What HR Pharmaceuticals is Doing to Help
At HR Pharmaceuticals, we manufacture medical lubricants that been trusted by practitioners around the world for more than 80 years. Surgilube has been the preferred medical lubricant in gynecological practices for use during vaginal exams and Pap smears. Our carbomer-free, water-based formula does not affect cytology samples collected and has been approved by HOLOGIC® for use with the ThinPrep Pap Test. For the patient, the superior lubricating qualities make the exams more comfortable and reduce trauma to vaginal tissue caused by speculum insertion. Our single-use or multi-use packaging makes performing exams in any setting possible.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, we believe that every person has the right to live a cancer-free life and we are doing our part to help make cancer screenings more reliable and accessible for patients around the globe.