Community News January 18, 2019

Patient Warns of Ignoring Cervical Cancer Signs and Promotes Prevention

Discomfort, minor pain and fatigue could be symptoms of almost any illness, but what about cancer?

After years of not going to the doctor, Angela McKibben of Zaleski, OH, decided to finally schedule an appointment after experiencing what she thought were only symptoms of constipation. Angela’s health care provider suggested an abdominal CT scan to get a better idea of what might be going on. 

Going into her appointment without any worries, she was of the mindset a CT scan was just normal protocol resulting in some medication to help relieve her problems. It wasn’t until a nurse suggested she bring a loved one with her to review her CT results that she began to worry. “When they asked me to bring someone with me to my follow-up appointment, I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew the results could not be good,” she said. 

Angela’s results showed a tumor in her cervix and she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cervical cancer. Shocked, scared and uncertain of what he future looked like, she turned to the Adena Cancer Center for help. 

After discussing her treatment plan and options with her physicians and nurse navigator, Angela decided to undergo a debulking surgery, in which the affected lymph nodes, left ovary and fallopian tube were removed. Providers then took a biopsy of the bladder, which tested positive. Due to the cancer being so advanced and spreading to the lymph nodes in the pelvic area and the tumor attaching to her bladder, a hysterectomy was not suggested. 

After recovering from surgery, Angela completed six weeks of treatment which consisted of 30 treatments of external beam radiation, six treatments of chemo, and 5 treatments of internal radiation. “Being able to complete chemo and radiation so close to home has been so convenient and Dr. Wilson, Dr. Rose and the rest of the staff have been so caring and good to me,” said Angela. 

If there is anything Angela wants women to gain from her experience, it is to get your Pap smear. “Women are always taking care of others, but sometimes we need to stop and remember to take care of ourselves,” she stated. “Life happens and everyone gets busy, but slow down, know and listen to your body. Seeing your gynecologist before your health gets out of hand could save your life.”

Angela is now in her second round of chemo at Adena and focusing on living life, raising her grandson and staying healthy. 

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year. Cervical cancer is caused by a virus known as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Through proper screenings, it can be detected early and even prevented. 

Adena Women’s Health provider Dr. Kristen Colwell recommends women over 21, who are sexually active should get tested every three years, depending on your risk factors.

“Up to eighty percent of abnormal Pap smears that are positive for high-risk HPV maybe high-grade precancerous changes,” explained Dr. Colwell. “Through proper screenings, it can be detected early and even prevented.” 

She added, “Cervical cancer is asymptomatic meaning just like in Angela’s case, there are usually no symptoms. Symptoms such as constipation, minor lower pelvic pain are very vague and not too specific. This is why getting your yearly pelvic exam is so important.”

If you have questions about cervical cancer, HPV or to schedule a screening, contact Adena Women’s Health OB/GYN at 740-779-7201 or Adena Women’s Health OB/GYN- Premier at 740-642-4400.