- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ELWOOD, Ill. (AP) - Cancer.

Just hearing the word can cause a sinking feeling. For Paulette Apostolou, 49, of Elwood, the distress of a cervical cancer diagnosis was combined with regret.

Apostolou hadn’t received a Pap test in 14 years.

“I didn’t think I needed to go,” Apostolou said. “I was busy building a business with my ex-husband. Just life. I didn’t take care of myself.”

According to the American Cancer Society’s website, about 12,820 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and about 4,210 women will die from cervical cancer in 2017. Women younger than 20 are rarely diagnosed with it; most cases are found in women younger than 50.

That said, more than 15 percent of cervical cancers are found in women over age 65, generally in women who did not have regular screenings, the American Cancer Society’s website stated.

“I think it’s the most preventable cancer we have in women’s cancer,” said Dr. Nita Lee, urogynecologic oncologist and assistant professor of obstetrics/gynecology at the University of Chicago. “What’s concerning is that every time we see a new patient, we see this as a missed opportunity.”

Cervical cancer rates have been fairly stable in the United States, Lee said, and that’s due to regular screening through Pap and HPV testing. The Pap test does a good job at catching early stage cancer - when less invasive treatments are needed - and even pre-cancer, which requires even less intervention, Lee said.

The challenge is helping women understand the necessity of regular screening. Lee has heard it all: “I’m too busy.” ”My doctor didn’t recommend it.” ”I’m not at risk. I don’t have a history of abnormal Pap smears.”

Lee gets it.

“Nobody likes to have a pelvic exam,” Lee said. “It’s about doing what’s good for you.”

‘I thought I was in early stage menopause’

Apostolou said she started feeling unwell in 2015 and shrugged off the back pain (“I thought my sciatica was acting up”) and irregular periods (“I thought I was in early stage menopause”).

But then Apostolou developed a malodorous discharge she could not ignore.

“It scared the hell out of me,” she said.

Apostolou said her doctor did a Pap test and didn’t make her feel badly for falling behind in her screening. Four days later, the doctor called back and said Apostolou needed a colposcopy, which checks for abnormal areas of tissue, and an endocervical biopsy.


Source: The (Joliet) Herald-News, https://bit.ly/2kBVZnq


Information from: The Herald-News, https://www.theherald-news.com/

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide