While Joey is just one women deeply affected by this terrible disease, cervical cancer is actually the the second most common cancer in women worldwide, sickening over five million women and killing nearly three million every year, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. Here’s what you need to know about the illness:
1. How is cervical cancer caused?
Cervical cancer is caused by severe abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina, according to WebMd. These cervical cells can get out of control if you are infected with high-risk types of human papilloma virus, or HPV. You can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. However, there are many types of the HPV virus and not all types cause cervical cancer.
2. What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
While abnormal cervical cell changes rarely cause symptoms, you may experience certain things if those cell change and grow into cervical cancer. These symptoms may include: bleeding from the vagina that is not normal, such as bleeding between menstrual periods, after sex, or after menopause; pain in the lower belly or pelvis; pain during sex; and vaginal discharge that isn’t normal.
3. How is cervical cancer treated?
Depending on how much the cancer has grown, you may have one or more treatments or even a combination of treatments. If you have a procedure called a hysterectomy, you won’t be able to have children. However, a hysterectomy isn’t always needed, especially when the cancer is found very early. Various treatments for cervical cancer include: surgery, such as a hysterectomy or the removal of pelvic lymph nodes with or without removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes; Chemotherapy; or Radiation therapy.
4. Are there any cervical cancer preventative measures?
Cervical cancer can often be successfully treated when it’s found early, according to Cancer.org. It is usually found at a very early stage through a Pap test. While a pap test doesn’t diagnose HPV, it looks for abnormal cells that are caused by certain types of the virus. If you treat these cell changes, you may prevent cervical cancer. Another way to help prevent cervical cancer is with a vaccine called Gardasil. Gardasil targets four strains of HPV and, according to the Center For Disease Control, is recommended for children 11-12 years old, but children as young as nine can be given the vaccine as well. While Gardasil can protect the body from HPV, it is not effective if HPV has already been contracted through sexual activity.
5. What increases someone’s risk for cervical cancer?
Having more than one sex partner or smoking cigarettes can increase your risk of cervical cancer.
Joey has been battling cervical cancer since 2014 but she halted all treatments in Oct. 2015 after her chemotherapy was deemed ineffective. This past November, she entered hospice care at her home in Indiana, where she’s been spending her final moments surrounded by family and friends.
HollywoodLifers, did this help you learn a little more about cervical cancer?