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Icky Female Cancers

Friday, May 3, 2013
If that post title doesn't scare the boys away, nothing will. But those boys should go away anyway, because some serious TMI follows.

This is another public service announcement to all ex-virgins reminding them that they should be checked out for cervical cancer on a regular basis. In Scotland women are recommended to pop into their local medical centre and get tested every two years. And as it has been two years, your poor auntie went in and got tested today.

Actually, the test, though uncomfortable, was not so bad. What is bad is cervical cancer, and I got a ring side seat to how nasty it can be when Hilary White went toe to toe with the horror, and I held her towel and water bottle for a round or two. In the end, Hilary had to have the dreaded major invasive surgery that saved--or has prolonged--her life. And I learned the importance of getting regular checks for cervical cancer.

Here is Cancer Research UK's wonderfully frightening webpage detailing the risk factors for cervical cancer. Note particularly the role of HPV. HPV, as I believe I have mentioned before, cannot be stopped by condoms. You'll notice that, I'm sure, in the link.

The admission that condoms don't stop all STDs always slays me because when I was a teenager AIDS burst onto the scene and the misleading term "safe sex" (later rather more honestly termed "safer sex") was born. "Safe sex" was all about condoms, touted as the solution to all of life's ills, except in the very, very small print. As condoms had no side-effects, the only people I know who cast doubt on condoms as the super-heroes of the Age of Aquarius were in the pro-life, pro-chastity movement.

Now, however, the people paid to take care of public health have started to explain in a little more detail why it is that all ex-virgin women--no matter if they have been wrapped in latex all their lives--are supposed to get checked for cervical cancer. But instead of suggesting a return to the sexual taboos that made some people miserable but kept them and others safe, they have come up with Gardasil. Gardasil may be all very well (and many people have their doubts about it), but maybe a little talk--or several little talks, sitcom episodes and rock songs--about how and why sex is much better left to grown-ups would be just as helpful.

Meanwhile, smoking is also a factor in cervical cancer. Why anyone smokes horrible cigarettes today is a mystery to me. Cigars and pipe tobacco are not great for your health, but at least I can understand why smokers go in for the flavour and buzz of good tobacco. But cigarettes are the low-grade potato chips of the tobacco world, so why women are willing to risk horrible deaths for them really amazes me.