What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus.
Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. There are many types of HPV. Some HPV types can cause changes on a woman’s cervix that can lead to cervical cancer over time.
- having multiple sexual partners.
- history of sexually transmitted disease.
- having first sexual intercourse at a young age.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer Include:
- bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse.
- bleeding in post-menopausal women.
- discomfort during sexual intercourse.
- smelly vaginal discharge or discharge tinged with blood.
- pelvic pain.
These symptoms can have other causes, including infection. If you have any signs that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away. In the early stages of cervical cancer, a person may experience no symptoms at all. As a result, women should have regular cervical smear, or Pap tests.
Cervical Cancer Screening Recommendations
- Pap tests should be done regularly as part of an overall physical exam. The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for cell changes on the cervix that may become cancer if they are not treated.
- HPV tests look for the virus that can cause these cell changes. Talk to your doctor about whether the HPV test is right for you.
No or Low-cost Screening for Eligible Residents
Screenings are covered by most health insurance. You can receive a free Pap test through the Anne Arundel County Department of Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer office at 410-222-6180. You will speak directly and confidentially to staff who will help determine if you are eligible for free services. After receiving all required paperwork, you will be scheduled for your well-woman screening appointments. Services are offered by a network of highly skilled, private county health care providers.
You can get the free or low-cost services if you:
- are 40 years or older,
- have a limited yearly income*,
- have no health insurance or have an insurance program that does not cover Pap tests, and
- are a resident of Anne Arundel County.
*Income eligibility changes slightly each year and is based on U.S. federal government guidelines.
For information regarding women’s health, order a FREE Women’s Health Kit online, request one from the Learn To Live Line at 410-222-7979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your complete name and address.