Reducing Your Risk for Cervical Cancer

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cervcancIn the month of January we raise awareness nationally about cervical cancer, in hopes of continuing to reduce the number of Americans affected by this disease. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services there are 12,000 new people diagnosed each year, and primarily in women over the age of 30. Roughly 79 million Americans are currently living with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer.

I always tell my patients that you can be proactive and work to prevent the incidence for you or a family member by: toolkit_badge_jan

  • Having the HPV vaccine (shots) that can prevent HPV.
  • Regular screening tests (called Pap tests) can often prevent Cervical Cancer by finding the abnormal cells early, so you prevent them turning into cancer.

Most deaths from cervical cancer could be prevented by having regular Pap tests and annual appointments with your provider. The Center for Disease Control found that around 50% of the patients diagnosed with cervical cancer never had cervical cytology testing, and another 10% had not been screened within the 5 years before diagnosis.

There has been much discussion over the years about when is the best age to start getting tested and the frequency. I follow the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendation of:

  • Younger than 21 – You do not need a screening.
  • 21 – 29 years old – Have a Pap test every 3 years.
  • 30 – 65 years old – Have a Pap test + an HPV test (co-testing) every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years.
  • 65 years or older – You do not need a screening if you have no history, and either have had three negative Pap test results in a row, or two negative co-test results in a row within the last 10 years.
Dr. Arnhold

Dr. Arnhold

A majority of insurance plans cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screenings. The incidence of cervical cancer in the United States has decreased by more than 50% in the past 30 years and that’s directly correlated to raising awareness about the importance of these tests.

If you have questions about these screenings or would like to schedule an appointment at Tri-County Health Care, call 218-631-1100, or Embrace Women’s Health Clinic in Baxter at 218-454-1754.

About the Author: Jennifer Arnhold, MD, lives with her husband, three-year old son and poodle in the Brainerd Lakes Area. She graduated from medical school in 2000 and performs gynecology and gynecological surgery at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena, MN. You can also see her for outpatient appointments at Embrace Women’s Health Clinic in Baxter.


Gestational Diabetes: My personal perspective of getting diagnosed

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By: Jennifer Arnhold, OB/GYN

The prevalence of gestational diabetes is as high as 9.2%, according to a 2014 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Diabetes Association describes gestational diabetes as, “A pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy.”

I am part of that statistic. During my pregnancy I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. As a physician I understand the medical side of diabetes, but translating that into real-life is much different.  When you get pregnant, it’s not just about you anymore, you’re also managing the health of your little one. I soon realized the diligence and time it took to manage blood sugars. I didn’t truly realize what it took for day to day management, until it was me. I exercised regularly before I got pregnant and all throughout my pregnancy. I was really surprised when I got the diagnosis. As a physician, and a woman who’s experienced this, I’m passionate about raising the awareness about the risk factors, but also letting others know that you can still have a healthy pregnancy.

Dr. Arnhold playing in the snow with her son.

Dr. Arnhold playing in the snow with her son.

There are some factors that predispose woman to gestational diabetes, including:

  • Prediabetes (blood sugar that’s elevated, but not high enough to be called diabetes)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • A history of gestational diabetes
  • A family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Hormone disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Being overweight, or gaining too much weight during pregnancy
  • Being older than 25
  • Being of African, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander descent
  • Previously giving birth to a baby that weighed at least 9 pounds or had a birth defect
  • Previously having an unexplained stillbirth or miscarriage

gestationaldiabetesfbAfter a woman becomes pregnant, they start to experience insulin resistance, which is when the pancreas can’t secrete enough insulin for the mother and baby’s needs. Without the right amount of insulin, blood sugars rise too high, causing hyperglycemia.  Pregnant woman will generally get the diagnosis late in the pregnancy, around the 24th week. In the case that a woman has been known to have had gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy, we will monitor earlier.

If a woman is unable to control her blood sugar levels the baby is at risk for several complications:

  • Macrosomia, or an overweight baby. This can cause nerve damage during delivery.
  • Low blood glucose levels at birth.
  • Higher risk for immature lung development.
  • Babies with excess insulin become children who are at risk for obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

    Dr. Jennifer Arnhold

    Dr. Jennifer Arnhold

This is a diagnosis which must be taken seriously for the health of the mother and baby.

I know the surprise of getting this type of diagnosis while pregnant, but I also am keenly aware by being proactive you can still end up with a healthy Mom and healthy baby.

About the Author: Jennifer Arnhold, MD, lives with her husband, three-year old son and poodle in the Brainerd Lakes Area. She graduated from medical school in 2000 and performs gynecology and gynecological surgery at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena, MN. You can also see her for outpatient appointments at Embrace Women’s Health Clinic in Baxter.

 

Sources

  1. H. Gilmartin, S. H. Ural, and J. T. Repke (2008). “Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.” Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
  2. L. DeSisto, S. Y. Kim, and A. J. Sharma (2014). “Prevalence Estimates of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in the United States.
  3. What is Gestational Diabetes? American Diabetes Association.

The information and opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and are not designed to constitute advice or recommendations as to any disease, ailment or physical condition. You should not act or rely solely upon any information contained in this article without seeking the advice of your personal physician.