COLORADO SPRINGS – As we close out Cervical Cancer Awareness month, Dr. Dirk Pikaart, a gynecologic oncologist with UCHealth Memorial in Colorado Springs, says there are a few important factors to know about when it comes to preventing and detecting cervical cancer.
“Screening for cervix cancer is easy. It’s a quick exam and a test called a pap smear. A pap smear is a little sampling of some cells. It’s not even a biopsy, it doesn’t hurt and it only takes a few minutes at the doctor’s office, and those pap smears can be lifesaving.”
Dr. Pikaart also feels strongly that all women should know that even if you don’t have insurance, screenings need to be a priority.
“What I wish all women knew and understood is that there’s always a way to get your pap smear. If you don’t have insurance or you don’t have a doctor, there are programs out there that can help you get a free screening test done. Not having insurance and not being able to afford it is not an excuse to not get your pap smears.”
And Dr. Pikaart emphasizes to never ignore warning signs when they present themselves.
“It’s important that you understand that abnormal symptoms like bleeding and discharge should never be ignored. It’s very important that you see your provider – a physician or nurse practitioner – to get evaluated for that because it could be early cervix cancer especially if you haven’t been having a regular pap smear.”
Finally, visit with your doctor about being vaccinated against human pamillomavirus, or HPV.
“We now have a vaccine for cervical cancer. The vaccine is directed at the high-risk HPV viruses that you can be exposed to. The key to the vaccine is to get it before exposure, at a younger age. The vaccine helps prevent cervical cancer development later in life if you happen to be exposed.”
If you have questions about cervical cancer, follow up with your doctor.
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