Coping and support
No one can be prepared for a cancer diagnosis. You can, however, try to manage the shock and fear you're feeling by taking steps to control what you can about your situation.
Everyone deals with a cervical cancer diagnosis in his or her own way. With time, you'll discover what helps you cope. Until then, you can start to take control by attempting to:
- Learn enough about cervical cancer to make decisions about your care. Write down your questions and ask them at the next appointment with your doctor. Get a friend or family member to come to appointments with you to take notes. Ask your health care team for further sources of information.
- Find someone to talk with. You may feel comfortable discussing your feelings with a friend or family member, or you might prefer meeting with a formal support group. Support groups for the families of cancer survivors also are available.
- Let people help. Cancer treatments can be exhausting. Let friends and family know what types of help would be most useful for you.
- Set reasonable goals. Having goals helps you feel in control and can give you a sense of purpose. But choose goals that you can reach.
- Take time for yourself. Eating well, relaxing and getting enough rest can help combat the stress and fatigue of cancer.
To reduce your risk of cervical cancer:
- Get vaccinated against HPV. Vaccination is available for girls and women ages 9 to 26. The vaccine is most effective if given to girls before they become sexually active.
- Have routine Pap tests. Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix, so they can be monitored or treated in order to prevent cervical cancer. Most medical organizations suggest women begin routine Pap tests at age 21 and repeat them every few years.
- Practice safe sex. Using a condom, having fewer sexual partners and delaying intercourse may reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
- Don't smoke.
June 30, 2016
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- Straughn JM, et al. Management of early-stage cervical cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 1, 2016.
- Cervical cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Jan. 3, 2016.
- Straughn JM, et al. Management of locally advanced cervical cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 1, 2016.
- Genital HPV infection: Fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm. Accessed April 1, 2016.
- AskMayoExpert. Cervical cancer screening. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Palliative care. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed April 22, 2016.