What to Ask about Cervical Cancer
Here are some questions you may not think to ask your doctor, along with notes on why they’re important.
Is there any reason I should not get the HPV vaccine?
Girls and women should not get vaccinated if they are allergic to yeast. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not get the vaccine, nor should girls or women who are acutely ill.
If I’m already sexually active, will the vaccine help me?
Sexually active girls and women may get less benefit from the vaccine because they may have already been exposed to one or more of the types of HPV in the vaccine. But they are likely to get some protection because they probably have not been exposed to all four HPV types that the vaccines covers.
Should I be vaccinated if I’m older than 26?
The F.D.A. recently said that it cannot yet approve expanding the vaccine’s usage to women ages 27 to 45, citing questions about the vaccine’s effectiveness in this age group. This is presumably because women 26 and older are more likely to be sexually active and to have been exposed to more strains of HPV.
Should male partners be vaccinated?
The vaccine has not been approved for boys and men, though that is being studied. It could have health benefits for men, preventing genital warts and rare cancers of the penis and anus, as well as protecting their female partners who aren’t vaccinated.
What should I do if I have side effects from the vaccine?
Side effects typically are mild and include temporary redness, soreness and swelling at the injection site. Other common side effects are headaches and fever. Let your doctor know if you experience problems.
How often should I have a Pap test?
Guidelines vary based on a woman’s age, whether a regular Pap test or liquid-based Pap test is used, the results of her previous Pap tests, and the results of any HPV tests she has had.
What if my Pap test is normal but my HPV test is not?
Most HPV infections go away without treatment. Your doctor may ask you to return for your next Pap and HPV tests sooner than usual, or may examine your cervix under magnification, a procedure called a colposcopy, to determine if more tests are needed.
Do I have health issues that may increase my risk for cervical cancer?
Having a weakened immune system or HIVraises a woman’s risk for cervical cancer. So does having a history of cervical cancer or of having been exposed to the synthetic estrogen DES, or diethylstilbestrol, before birth.
I sometimes have a vaginal discharge or bleeding between periods. Could this mean I have cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer usually has no symptoms, though some women with this condition have vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding or heavier or longer periods. In most cases, these are not signs of cervical cancer.
I have learned that I have cervical cancer. What stage is it, and what does that mean?
The stage of a cancer, meaning its size and how far it has spread, will determine the best type of treatment. It can also tell you the typical five-year survival rate.
What type of treatment do you recommend, and why?
Treatment may be surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy, or a combination of these. In some cases, there is more than one treatment option to consider.
What are the possible side effects of treatment?
These vary with the type and extent of treatment. Surgery requires a recovery period. Women undergoing radiation therapy may feel tired and have skin irritation during treatment. Chemotherapy can cause hair loss, nausea, vomiting and mouth sores.
Am I a candidate for treatment that would let me have children in the future?
If a cancer is minimally invasive, it is sometimes possible for women to have surgery that removes only the affected tissue but leaves the uterus.
What are the chances that my cancer will come back with the treatments we’re considering?
All treatments carry some risk that precancerous cervical lesions or invasive cancers will recur.
Source: Fun email