It goes further than your eyes can see.
You can't casually see it yourself. Cervical cancer is even obscured from view of the most flexible contortionists. Shielded beyond walls and corridors of private flesh is a small nib called the cervix with an opening the size of a pinhead. During pregnancy, the cervix thickens, becomes softer and more elongated, while the opening is closed with a plug of mucus.
Though nearly impossible to view yourself, without monitoring, the cervix can become a breeding ground for the human Papillomavirus (HPV). According to the CDC, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth, throat or other parts of the body. Basically, they are warts that may resolve on their own or with treatment, but can also develop into cancer.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Doctors, especially gynecologists, should do their part to educate patients about cervical cancer risks. A good way to do so is to display the poster entitled Understanding Cervical Cancer within medical examination rooms.