Avera Medical Minute: Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 10:30 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - January is cervical cancer awareness month, which aims to highlight the importance of screening for the disease.

Cervical cancer is among the top five most common cancers in women, but health officials say it can be prevented.

Linda Bruce knows how important cervical cancer screenings are. She has battled with the disease for nearly a decade.

“I’m actually a 5-time survivor. I actually had issues back in 2012 with major major bleeding,” she said.

Doctors say when symptoms of cervical cancer start showing up, like bleeding, it means the cancer may already be advanced which makes screening and prevention so important.

“Vaccination and prevention is key we are going to potentially eradicate this disease if we get people vaccinated. Vaccination rates in SD has gone from 50 percent to 70 percent for the HPV vaccine and we already seeing a decrease in precancerous state of the disease so that is key,” said Dr. Luis Rojas.

Dr. Rojas is a gynecologic oncologist with Avera Medical Group.

“Cervical cancer is a cancer that occurs in the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus in the female. And it’s one of the few cancers that has been identified to be caused by the infection of a virus,” he said.

Dr. Rojas is part of Linda Bruce’s cancer care team.

“I think it is important for our community to know that locally, here at Avera, we have a state of the art treatment for this disease. People don’t have to travel to other places. We at the cancer service line are about treating people in their communities,” he said.

For Linda, that access to care and having her support system close by helped her get through.

“And you couldn’t ask for a better doctor than Dr. Rojas and the chemo nurses and Dr. Rojas’ nurse, they’re so encouraging and stuff and also friends and family as well that really kept me going,” said Bruce.

After many rounds of radiation, chemo, and a clinical trial she now wants to make sure other women are aware of the seriousness of this disease.

“Things can happen so fast there’s just are so much different type of cancers out there but cervical cancer is a very serious thing which a lot of people don’t think of that type of that thing so I would say for the women and the girls just staying on top of your pap smears,” said Bruce.

For more information on cervical cancer and oncology, visit www.Avera.org/MedicalMinute

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