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Employee Spotlight — Kelby Kitzmiller

The Keystone Health Employee Spotlight for April shines on Kelby Kitzmiller, Maintenance Technician II.

Kelby began working at Keystone in April 2016.

“When I saw the job opening I was immediately interested because I had experience in the maintenance and construction field,” Kelby said. “I quickly filled out an application and was later brought in for an interview. When I received the phone call that I had a job with Keystone, I was thrilled. The experience I have had thus far has been one of the best and I look forward to many years here.”

Kelby can be found at any Keystone Health building on any given day, performing a variety of tasks to keep each facility and its surrounding grounds looking nice and operating smoothly. He will tell you that no two days are the same in his line of work.

“One of the best parts of being employed at Keystone is that every day is different,” he said. “There are various tasks that must be completed and I still learn something new every day. When it comes to my work, I am very particular and want it all to be perfect.”

When asked what his favorite thing is about working at Keystone, Kelby couldn’t pick just one answer.

“Honestly, everything,” he said. “Everything about Keystone makes me proud to work here – the people, the family-oriented atmosphere, and best of all I like coming to work every day. I extremely enjoy my employment with Keystone and plan to retire from here.”

Kelby was born and raised in Chambersburg, and has no plans of leaving the area.

“It’s where I met my wife in high school, and where I plan on retiring,” he said. “All of my family and friends live in this area.”

In his free time, Kelby enjoys a variety of activities.

“I have many hobbies that I enjoy,” he said. “But if I had to pick, my favorites would be hunting, fishing, exploring the world with my wife, and being with friends and family. I also try to eat right and stay busy as much as possible.”

Kelby and his wife reside in Shippensburg, and they will soon have a family of three.

“My family is growing,” he said. “By the end of this month, we’re having a baby boy. I’m extremely excited about that!”

Thank you, Kelby, for all that you do for Keystone and our patients!

Sensory Problems and Treatment for Children Living With Autism

For children living with autism spectrum disorder (or ASD), navigating in the world around them can be challenging. Joel Desotelle, licensed pediatric occupational therapist and program director of Keystone Pediatric Therapies in Chambersburg, sheds some light on sensory problems and treatment for children living with ASD.

How The Senses Affect Children Living With ASD

In order to do everyday tasks, our brain needs information to be able to think, problem solve, plan and organize. That information comes in through our senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, balance and movement) and is quickly sorted and distributed throughout the brain. Each brain center works together to use this information to help us survive, learn and accomplish daily goals (such as getting dressed, completing homework, learning a new subject, etc.). Individuals living with autism struggle to manage all of this sensory information, making these tasks a lot harder.

Common Problems

For an individual to grow and learn skills, the brain centers need talk to each other. This requires a good network of “roads” and the “fuel” (brain chemistry) to get those messages around. While the cause of autism is not fully understood, we do know that individuals living with ASD lack a good road system and brain chemistry for the brain to work efficiently.

The Effect Of Sensory Processing Issues

The world around us moves quickly. From birth, our brains take in an enormous amount of information, helping us to learn and grow. As we get older, we start to talk and work together, sharing information in real time. But what happens if a person’s brain can’t keep up or cannot handle all this information? These individuals struggle to learn and understand, and quickly look for ways to compensate, withdraw from and/or react to these challenges. As time passes, core skills are missed and each child struggles to keep up.

ASD Is Hard For Everyone InvolvedWhether it’s your child, relative, student, patient or client, everyone involved in the child’s life wants to help. ASD is a puzzle because the problem is not black and white. Without understanding all of the issues and how to address them (and in what order), it is easy to set the bar too high or too low for these great kids. Do they truly understand your comments, a situation or the expectations of an activity? This can lead to frustration for everyone involved, putting a strain on relationships and family life.

Treatment: Where to Start

The best way to help individuals with ASD is to start with the basics. Occupational therapists use sensory integration and other strategies to build roads and get the brain chemistry in a good place. These strategies also help to integrate reflexes that can persist in children with ASD, while improving self-regulation and attention and laying the groundwork to work on core skills (awareness, comprehension, initiation, etc.). It is important to work with your occupational therapist to identify where your child needs to start and develop a roadmap for treatment. Starting in the wrong place can lead to further delays, stress and even unwanted behaviors.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

Keystone Behavioral Health is MOVING!

That’s right! Keystone Behavioral Health will be relocating to a brand new building!

Our new address of May 7th, 2018 will be: 110 Chambers Hill Drive, Chambersburg. We will begin seeing patients at this location at 7:30 am on May 7th.

For directions from our old location (820 Fifth Avenue, Chambersburg), click here: MAP

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to call us at (717) 709-7930. Our phone number will not change.

What You Need To Know About Colorectal Cancer

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States.

Dr. Kerry Whitelock of Keystone Internal Medicine shares some important information everyone should know about how to take control of their health.

What Are Some Symptoms Of Colorectal Cancer?

Warning signs include blood in stool, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, rectal pain, anemia and a change in bowel habits. It is important to note that these are some common symptoms and are not the only indicators of colorectal cancer. In fact, people with early stages of colorectal cancer often have no symptoms at all. That’s why regular testing is so important.

Who Should Be Screened?

If you are at average risk, you should be screened regularly between the ages of 50-75. Depending on your risk factors, including a family history of colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend screening earlier than 50 or later than 75. Screening is not recommended for those older than 85 years of age.

Other factors that can put people at a higher risk include being overweight, tobacco and alcohol use, lack of exercise, a diet that is high in fat and low in fiber, and health conditions including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

What Testing Options Are Available?

The most commonly known testing method is the colonoscopy. This procedure allows the doctor to view the inside of the colon, and to remove any polyps, or abnormal growths, that are found. There is a prep protocol that must be followed, but it is short-term and allows the gastroenterologist to view the entire colon. The colonoscopy itself is usually painless as anesthesia is used for patient comfort. If the results are normal, most people will not require another screening for 5-10 years.

A yearly fecal immunohistochemical test, or stool FIT test, is an alternative screening method. No prep or dietary restrictions are involved. This is a stool test that can be done in the privacy of your own home and is then mailed away for the results. If the results are negative, the patient does another FIT in a year. If the results are positive, then the patient needs to have a colonoscopy for further evaluation.

It is important to not put off screening because colorectal cancer can be detected at a curable stage in patients who have no symptoms. Several studies show that people who undergo screening have lower mortality rates than patients who do not get screened. There is no best strategy to screening for colorectal cancer. The best strategy is the test that the patient can consistently carry out. If you are between the ages of 50-75, have a family history of colorectal cancer, or are experiencing any symptoms, now is the time to talk to your doctor.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

What Your Mouth Can Tell You About Your Health

If you think skipping out on routine teeth cleaning is no big deal, think again. Research has shown a direct link between oral health and total health. Oral issues can develop and progress quickly, whether or not you notice them.

Dental professionals are not only concerned with fixing teeth, but also clean them, aim to ensure your gums are healthy, and check for abnormalities that may otherwise go unnoticed and could be a sign of larger health issues. By keeping on top of your dental cleanings and checkups, you’re doing yourself a big favor in the long run.

Dr. John Palm, Dentist and Medical Director at Keystone Dental Care, shares some information about what your oral health may be telling you about your overall health, and how to treat one of the more common symptoms – dry mouth.

Oral Cancer

If you don’t know the signs of oral cancer and don’t seek treatment, it can quickly progress and become life-threatening. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention.

White or red discoloration in the mouth – if you notice any change of color inside the mouth, including the gums, it could be a sign of oral cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is especially prevalent in older males.

Sores, lumps, swelling, or thick patches – these symptoms can be found anywhere in the mouth or throat. Accompanying issues include trouble moving your jaw or tongue, difficulty swallowing, chewing or speaking, a sore throat that doesn’t heal and discomfort wearing dentures due to swelling.

Diabetes

One in three people with diabetes don’t even know they have it. This is very dangerous, because untreated diabetes can threaten your heart, eyes, kidneys, mouth and more. Oral symptoms could be among the first signs that you need to see a doctor and be screened for diabetes. These symptoms include:

Bad/fruity-smelling breath – people with diabetes may develop a sweet and fruity odor on their breath as their body is struggling to get rid of excess chemicals.

Sore gums or teeth – if your gums are sore, swollen or bleeding it could be a sign of gum disease, which is common in diabetic patients. If your mouth is slow to heal after a burn or a cut, it could also be an indicator of diabetes.

Dry mouth – this is marked by excessive thirst, and can cause soreness, ulcers, infections and tooth decay. Smoking makes this problem even worse. It’s important to see a dentist regularly, because a dentist’s trained eye can spot dryness in the mouth before symptoms even begin.

How To Treat Dry Mouth Symptoms

While dry mouth can be a sign of disease, it can also be caused by things such as stress, some medications, and cancer treatments. If you’re suffering from this condition, there are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms.

Sipping small amounts of water during the day will help keep your mouth moist. However, drinking too much water will reduce the mucus film in your mouth and can make problems worse. Avoid drinking many acidic beverages (carbonated drinks, wine, and fruit juices) and stick with water, especially while eating. Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies may also help; if you get gum or candies sweetened by xylitol, it may even help prevent tooth decay.

Oil-based lip balms or ointments with Vitamin E will soothe dry lips, and using humidifiers in your home (especially at night) can provide relief. There are also over-the-counter saliva moisturizers available. If you are still experiencing dry mouth after trying the above treatments, you can discuss prescription medications with your dentist or healthcare provider.

Autoimmune Diseases

The immune system is designed to protect our bodies from disease. However, in those suffering from autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. Some autoimmune disorders include: inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjögren’s syndrome. Any of the following symptoms could be a sign that something isn’t right within your body.

Bumps or ulcers in the mouth – raised bumps that look like cobblestones on the gums may or may not be painful, but they could signal inflammation related to an autoimmune disease. Small, painful ulcers in the mouth (also known as canker sores) can be another indicator of larger health problems.

Difficulty swallowing, change in speech and/or taste, and mouth dryness – Autoimmune diseases can affect the glands that produce saliva. If enough saliva isn’t being produced or if it has a thick consistency, you may want to see a doctor.

Jaw swelling and/or pain – this can be a sign of inflammatory arthritis in the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), which affects about 50% of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Changes in the tongue or lower lip – if you notice your tongue or lower lip is swollen or enlarged, or that your tongue has taken on a dry, cobblestone appearance, your body could be telling you there is a bigger problem.

Anemia

People with anemia have a lower red blood cell count than normal, and their bodies may not get enough oxygen-rich blood supply. If you know you have anemia, be sure to tell your dentist before they begin any procedures as this can affect care.

Sore, smooth, and/or swollen tongue – these signs may be accompanied by the tongue appearing more pale than normal.

Paleness of the gums, tongue, or mouth – if the tissue in your mouth is abnormally pale it could be a sign that your body isn’t producing enough red blood cells.

Acid Reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

When many people think of acid reflux or GERD, they think of heartburn. However, untreated GERD can lead to serious health issues, including cancer. It can also lead to oral health problems.

Tooth erosion – the gastric acid found in those with chronic reflux often leads to tooth erosion – even without heartburn or other obvious symptoms. If your dentist notices your tooth enamel is weakening or eroding, it could be a sign of something more.

Chronic Kidney Disease

This disease affects your body’s ability to properly filter waste and toxins, and can lead to gradual and permanent loss of kidney functions over time. If left untreated, it can be fatal. People with diabetes and high blood pressure are especially at risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Bad breath – As your kidneys lose their ability to filter wastes from your body, your breath will take on the scent of urine. If you notice a scent that smells like fish or ammonia on your breath, it might be time to see a doctor.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

Employee Spotlight — Vanessa Rice

The Keystone Health Employee Spotlight for March shines on Vanessa Rice, the Clinical Manager of Farmworker Health in Adams and Franklin Counties!

Vanessa began working at Keystone as an Outreach Nurse for the Farmworker Program in 2007.

“I was ready for a different type of nursing career,” she said. “Having married into a family with orchards, I wanted to serve the Farmworker population that keeps our county rural and beautiful and unique.”

She was promoted to a Clinical Manager position in 2016, which keeps her busy with various tasks throughout Adams and Franklin Counties.

“During the season we have outreach or clinics four nights per week which require planning, coordination, and physical work,” Vanessa said. “I am also responsible for coordination of patient care, risk management, staff recruitment and training, and managing medication and clinical inventory. Some days I am in Adams County, some days in Franklin, and some days in both!”

Vanessa enjoys her busy days, and loves her time with the patients.

“My favorite part of my job is outreach – meeting the patients on their turf and working outside. We truly reach out to our farmworkers and help them maneuver in a complex medical system. And we have fun while doing it! I love driving into the orchards in the late afternoon, and the rural, rolling drive from Adams County to Chambersburg once off Route 30 is relaxing.”

She is also thankful to her co-workers, who make her job even more enjoyable.

“I feel valued at Keystone – as an employee and as a person,” she said. “I’m proud to be a part of the Farmworker health staff; there is an abundance of caring and creativity in this group of people that I have found nowhere else in my nursing career.”

While Vanessa grew up in Maryland, she now calls Gettysburg home.

“I grew up in a tobacco town in southern Maryland,” she said. “My dad was a doctor, and he and Mom raised 10 children together. I went to Gettysburg College, and have lived within three blocks of the college nearly ever since! Gettysburg’s personality changes with the season – from a college town, to a tourist town, to a Harley town, to a ghost town. Its significance in history is a thread that runs through all of its personalities. I love it here.”

When she’s not at work, Vanessa has varied interests and hobbies that she enjoys.

“I love to play piano for The Gettysburg Community Theatre musical productions, and I’m trying to learn how to play concertina. I love to dance, and I teach tap dancing. I also enjoy riding my bike around town.

“But my greatest pleasure in the last five years has been the births of five grandchildren – and one on the way!”

Thank you, Vanessa, for all that you do for Keystone and our patients!

 

How To Communicate Through Hearing Loss

Approximately one-third of Americans ages 65 and older have hearing loss. Do you know how to properly communicate with someone who has a hearing impairment? Dr. Carolyn Coss, Audiologist and Speech Language Pathologist at Keystone Audiology and Speech, shares some important tips to help avoid miscommunication, alleviate frustration and make sure everyone is included in daily activities and conversations.

If you notice a friend or family member is having difficulty hearing, what should you do?

If you notice a loved one is not hearing well, encourage them to have a formal hearing evaluation by an audiologist before they begin to avoid social situations and before people around them become frustrated by miscommunications.

What should someone keep in mind if a loved one develops a hearing impairment?

Hearing loss can lead to miscommunication, frustration, and social isolation. Often, people with hearing loss feel left out of conversations or may feel that others are talking about them when they cannot understand. Let them know that you really do want to include them in your conversations. Even with hearing aids, people with significant hearing loss may not understand what has been said or have to work very hard to participate in conversations.

What are some tips for communicating with someone who has a hearing impairment?

First, understand that hearing loss can be isolating. That means that communication partners must make some accommodations so that the friend or family member can feel included. Make sure you are facing the person when you talk, that your hands are not in front of your mouth, that you are within 6-8 feet and that any background noises are reduced or eliminated. That may mean turning off music, muting the TV, or moving into a quieter room. For men with a mustache, it may mean trimming a little closer so that the mouth is easier to see. Speak clearly at a “slow normal” rate. When asked to repeat, rephrase if needed. Write down important information, such as appointment times or schedules, to avoid confusion. Remote communication can be improved by using texting, emailing, a captioned telephone or relay service.

How can loved ones help those with hearing impairments live as normally as possible?

People with hearing loss enjoy the same kinds of activities that everyone else does. Being inclusive usually just means paying attention to the listening environment and making sure that the person with hearing loss understands what is going on and has access to information. In a noisy restaurant, you may ask for a quieter table. At a theater, ask for an assistive device. Request a transcript of an audio tour or lecture. Make use of the closed captioning on your television or use a direct-to-hearing aids transmitter.

What are some tips for including someone with a hearing impairment in gatherings?

Smaller gatherings are quieter and make listening easier. However, when in larger groups, keep a few of the following ideas in mind. Make sure the person with hearing loss is able to see all the faces of the group and that lighting is not too dim. Eliminate background music or other background noises. Avoid sudden changes in topic; knowing the topic allows the person with a hearing impairment to better predict what is being discussed. Pay attention to signals of misunderstanding such as a confused expression and clarify before moving on. Avoid interrupting and talking over others.

By making a few adjustments and being intentional about including everyone, those with hearing loss can participate more fully in life and enjoy the same activities as everyone around them.

 

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

Employee Spotlight — Faith Barnes

The Keystone Health Employee Spotlight for February shines on Faith Barnes, Clinical Supervisor and Dental Assistant at Keystone Dental Care!

Faith began working at Keystone in October of 2008.

“When I completed school, I hand-delivered my resume to every dental office from Hagerstown to Chambersburg,” she said. “I made myself a note of each one that I liked. The receptionist at Keystone Dental was the main reason I called and pushed for an interview at Keystone. She was kind and made me feel welcome, and was happy to answer my many questions.”

When you ask Faith, she’ll tell you no day is typical when it comes to her job. She works at both Keystone Dental locations – Chambersburg and Mont Alto, and starts her days by ensuring all of the Dental teams have the help and supplies they need to care for each patient. From there, she keeps busy with various things, which can change from day to day.

“Some days I’m assisting; others I’m working on cases in the lab for our providers, ordering supplies, putting supplies away, doing compliance checks, handling any repairs or any other issues that arise on a daily basis, and helping anywhere I’m needed,” she said.

Faith enjoys that her job keeps her busy and that no two days are alike. She also enjoys working with her Keystone Dental teammates.

“Our staff is welcoming and understanding to all our patients and their individual needs, not to mention that everyone here is more like family than co-workers,” she said. “We look out for each other and lend a helping hand or any support that someone needs.”

Faith takes pride in working for an organization that puts its patients first.

“I know everything that we do here is done the way it should be,” she said. “We meet high expectations every day, which allows us to continue to grow and give the best care to those who need us most. We are able to help those who may have hit hard times or those who need immediate attention. No matter the issue, the patients’ needs come first and everything we can do, we will do.

“We currently have six of the best dentists around, who provide nothing short of compassionate care, patience for challenging cases, and follow through with their very best work. There is no limit to what they will do for patients, and if that means losing some or all of their lunch or working after their day is over, they will do what it takes to provide care.  Each and every patient receives the very best care that our dentists can provide. I’m very proud to work with them and refer my family and friends here.”

When she’s not at work, Faith enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband, hunting, fishing, camping, and reading. (Her favorite books are the “Twilight” series.) She also looks forward to a yearly vacation with her kids. One of her favorite destinations is the beach – even though she’s not a fan of water.

“Some people would be surprised to know that I hate water but love the beach,” she said. “Since my husband and I have been together he has helped me with the fear of drowning. It takes a lot for me to get in the water and it’s usually brief. He knows that if he wants a picture of me there, he better be quick!”

Faith grew up in the very small town of Westernport, Maryland, and moved to Greencastle 12 years ago after meeting her husband. She has a 14-year-old son and three step-children, and now calls Franklin County her home.

“Franklin County was a great place for me to get a fresh start,” she said. “The people here care about each other and smile at you walking by. Some even speak to you. Back home everyone knew everyone and that was expected. Here, it’s a great feeling when you don’t know them but they make you feel as though you do. I have been to different areas since then, but I have to say nowhere else felt like home.”

Thank you, Faith, for all that you do for Keystone and our patients!

Cervical Cancer – A Survivor’s Story

Amy Colli with her husband, Mike.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. For one Keystone Health provider, this month has a personal importance. Amy Colli is a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, and is also a cervical cancer survivor. She wants to share her story in hopes of increasing awareness, stressing the importance of early detection, and encouraging parents to do all they can to make sure their children don’t have to go through what her own family endured.

How And When Were You Diagnosed?

I had a routine Pap test during my annual women’s care exam in May of 2014. (Paps are tests used to detect cervical cancer.) Shortly after, I received a phone call stating that I had tested positive for HPV – the Human Papilloma Virus – and that a biopsy was needed to check for cervical cancer. After the biopsy, I received another phone call with the news that I had adenocarcinoma in situ, which means cancer cells were found in my cervix, but that it had been caught early and the cancer cells had not yet spread to surrounding tissue. I was told that my husband and I needed to come in first thing the next morning to discuss treatment options.

Did You Have Any Symptoms Before Being Diagnosed?

No. I was shocked because I had no symptoms at all, and my Paps had always been normal. I was an avid marathon runner and led a very healthy lifestyle. As a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, I gave daily advice on the importance of vaccinating against HPV. Little did I know how personal it would all become.

What Was Your Reaction To Being Diagnosed?

When I was given the news that I had cervical cancer, I was shocked and scared. I was very sad when I learned that a hysterectomy was necessary, but also felt very grateful that I had two beautiful, healthy children and was not planning on having more. I could not imagine getting that news if I had been younger.

What Do You Want Others To Learn From Your Experience?

Yearly screenings are so very important. We take our children to all of their well child check-ups, but as women, we don’t always make our health a priority. Prevention and early detection can make such a huge difference on outcomes.

I also want to make people aware of the importance of vaccinating their children for HPV. Both boys and girls should be vaccinated beginning at age 9. Young women can be vaccinated through age 26, and young men through age 21.

I think my mom said it best when she told me through tears that she felt very guilty that she wasn’t able to protect me from this nightmare because the HPV vaccine wasn’t available when I was young. I find it extremely frustrating that the vaccine is controversial because HPV is sexually transmitted. If there was a breast cancer vaccine available, people would be lining up for it.

There are more than 3 million new cases per year of HPV in the United States, and vaccinating against HPV can protect against the strains that cause cervical cancer. I would give anything to not have to go through what I did, and knowing that a vaccine is now available gives me hope for the future.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

What You Need To Know About Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Approximately 12,820 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year, and nearly one-third of those women will die from cervical cancer.

The good news is that there are steps women can take to protect themselves. Cathy McAfee, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner at Keystone Community Outreach, shares some important information about this disease.

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is when cells in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) begin to grow out of control. In most cases, this is caused by a virus called The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). In the past, cervical cancer was one of the most deadly forms of cancer in women. However, over the last 40 years, survival rates have doubled. This is due in large part to increased use of Pap testing.

What Is Pap Testing?

Pap tests are used to find changes in the cervix, and may also be combined with HPV testing. When changes are discovered before cancer begins to develop, or when the cancer is in an early stage, the disease is much easier to treat. The earlier the cancer or pre-cancer is found, the greater chance the patient has to survive.

Most medical insurance plans cover preventative screenings such as Pap tests. If you don’t have insurance, there are programs such as Keystone Community Outreach which offer screenings at a discounted rate or for free.

Who Should Be Tested?

You should talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to be screened, and how often. Generally, women ages 21-65 are recommended to get regular screenings. If you are older than 65, ask your provider whether or not screening is necessary for you.

You may be at a higher risk for cervical cancer with certain genetic or lifestyle factors, including if you: have a family history of cervical cancer, are a smoker, have had multiple sexual partners, have a weakened immune system and/or have taken oral birth control for five years or longer.

What Are Some Signs Or Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer?

Women who are in the pre-cancerous or early stages of cervical cancer usually have no symptoms; symptoms usually don’t begin until the cancer cells become invasive and spread into nearby tissue. This is why regular screenings are so important.

When symptoms do occur, they can include: abnormal vaginal bleeding (such as bleeding after sex, after menopause, between periods, etc.), menstrual periods which are longer or heavier than usual, an unusual vaginal discharge, and pain during sex.

These symptoms can sometimes be caused by things other than cervical cancer (such as an infection), but if you experience any of the signs above, it’s important to see a healthcare professional right away. The earlier the cancer is caught, the less time it has to advance and spread.

What Can I Do To Protect Myself?

If you are a woman who is 26 or younger you can get the HPV vaccine, which protects against most strains of the virus that can cause cervical cancer. Both girls and boys can receive this vaccine starting at age 9.

Being alert to signs and symptoms is important, but it’s better yet to take charge of your health. By being proactive, being vaccinated if possible, and having regular screenings, your chances of developing cervical cancer will be dramatically reduced.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.