All posts by Michelle Lewis

Cervical Cancer: Learn more to be your best at every age

When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix connects the vagina (birth canal) to the upper uterus. The uterus (womb) is where the baby grows when a woman is pregnant. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women age 30 and older. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex.

According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), at least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is highly preventable, because screening tests and a vaccine are available to you to prevent HPV infections. With early detection, HPV is very treatable and associated with long survival and improved quality of life. Two test screenings are available and can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:

  • PAP test (or pap smear) looks for pre-cancer, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause cell changes.

If you are 21-29 years old, you should start getting a pap test at 21. If your test is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait 3 years until your next pap test. If you are 30-65 years old, talk to your doctor about which test option/combo is right for you. Your physician should recommend an HPV test along with the Pap test. This is called co-testing. If both of your results are normal, the doctor may tell you to wait for 5 years until your next screening. (Note: HPV reflex testing does not count for the 5 year timeframe). If you are older than 65, the doctor may tell you that you don’t need to be screened anymore, especially if you have had normal screening test results for several years, or if you have had your cervix removed as part a total hysterectomy.

Your health is important to us, which is why we encourage you to get key preventive services. Seeing your primary care provider (PCP) every year helps you keep up on appropriate tests and screenings and reminds you to make your health a top priority.

Learn more information about cervical cancer by visiting WCIA.

Flu Prevention: Myths vs. Facts

It’s flu season, which means it’s time to get vaccinated. The vaccine is the best way to protect you and your loved ones from getting or spreading the flu. It’s important to get the flu shot each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the viruses that cause the flu can change yearly.

You’ve probably heard how important it is from your doctor and pharmacist, but you might have also heard people talk about it having risks or not working. We’re here to discuss the myths and give you the facts.

Myth– Vaccines are not proven to prevent the flu.

Fact – You are at least 60% less likely to become infected with the influenza virus.

Myth– The flu vaccine can give me the flu.

Fact – Flu viruses used in shots are inactivated, so they cannot cause infection.

Myth– I should wait to get vaccinated so I’m covered until the end of the season.

Fact- Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. It takes 2 weeks for antibodies to develop.

Myth– The flu shot will protect me from every type of flu virus.

Fact- The flu shot is designed yearly to protect against the highest risk/actively circulating strains of influenza.

Myth – It is better to get the flu than to get a flu vaccine.

Fact – Getting the flu shot provides benefits such as the potential to reduce illness and prevent time lost from work.


Diabetes Awareness Month: Managing Your Diabetes

Mixed berries – Getty Images

There are many things people with diabetes can do to manage their diabetes. Maintaining an active lifestyle, eating well and taking your medications as prescribed are some of the ways you can keep your condition under control.

Uncontrolled diabetes can be harmful to your body. There are many exams, tests and meds you should know about to help make sure you’re keeping your diabetes in check and avoid some of those harmful effects.

A1C: Have an A1C test at least twice a year to know your average blood sugar over the past three months. The goal for most people who aren’t pregnant is an A1C under 7 percent, but some people with other medical issues may have a goal of under 8 percent.

Aspirin: This is recommended in patients with a history of heart and vascular (blood vessel) problems. Ask your doctor if you should take aspirin regularly.

Blood pressure: Your doctor will check your blood pressure at each visit and will work with you to keep it in check to help prevent complications like kidney, heart and eye problems. Your goal should be under 140/90 mmHg.

Blood sugar testing: You should test your blood sugar (also called glucose) regularly at home or on the go, using a glucose meter. This can help a doctor know your best treatment options. Talk to your doctor about how often you should test yourself.

Cholesterol: Bad cholesterol can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, so ask your doctor if you’re at risk. People over 40 who have diabetes should take medication to lower their cholesterol.

Eye exam: Get a retinal eye exam every year to check for changes in your eyes related to diabetes. If there are no signs or changes detected, you should get a retinal eye exam every two years.

Foot exam: Check your feet daily and tell your doctor about any changes. A complete foot exam once a year with a monofilament (a thin tube) to check your sensation is recommended. If high-risk foot conditions are present, have your feet checked at each doctor visit.

Urine testing: You should have your urine tested yearly for albumin, a type of protein typically found in blood that can be a sign of problems if it’s found in urine. The test can catch kidney damage early so it can be treated with medication. The results should be under 30 mg/g.

Vaccines: These help you avoid certain sicknesses and cut down on the spread of those sicknesses. Get a flu shot yearly and the pneumonia vaccine as recommended by your doctor.