Valley Doctor sheds light on Cervical Cancer

Dr. Diagne

Dr. Diagne

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 1:21 pm | Updated: 1:33 pm, Thu Jan 16, 2014.

Laura Garcia Valley Town Crier – Reporter[email protected]

With a new year, come diets and trends. Fitness books and active gear are moved to the front of stores and splash the pages of circulars.

However, running five miles a day and eating right can only do so much. But awareness and prevention are the only way to ensure one’s overall health.

January is cervical cancer awareness month and a Rio Grande Valley doctor is lending his expertise.

Dr. Thiendella Diagne, a board certified OB-GYN at Valley Care Clinics, stated that cervical cancer is a disease that is rampant in the United States. There are more than 12,000 cervical cancer cases diagnosed each year and of those, 4,000 deaths will occur.

Sixty million pap smears are done every year and 3.5 million come back abnormal. When it presents as abnormal, further testing must be done, such as a colposcopy. A colposcopy is procedure to closely examine the cervix and possibly a biopsy.

Diagne says the most important thing a woman can do is have an annual pap smear after the age of 21. For women younger than 21 it is advised to have a pap smear three to five years after they become sexually active.

Diagne adds that there is a link between the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer.

Because HPV is almost 100 percent associated with cervical cancer, the HPV vaccine is recommended for younger girls at the age of 11 or 12 and for women up to the age of 26.

There are 40 types of HPV and eight high risk types which cause cervical cancer. While it does not offer complete immunity against the disease, the vaccine protects against types 16 and 18 which cause 70 percent of cervical cancer.

However, because 30 percent is still undetectable, pap smears are highly recommended.

Diagne says the vaccine is covered by most insurances and that pediatricians in the Valley do a very good job at administering the vaccine to young females.

Women who are at higher risk for cervical cancer include those who are smokers, those who have had multiple sex partners and those who are immunocompromised. Women with lower immune systems include HIV/AIDS patients, Lupus patients and organ transplant candidates. Also, women who have undergone chemotherapy for other cancers are at a higher risk.

If a woman has had a hysterectomy for a benign reason, a pap smear is no longer needed after their last normal screening. However a pelvic exam is still recommended.

Diagne adds that he has noticed a trend in the Valley with women assuming they do not need a pap smear after the birth of their last child.

He cannot stress enough that pap smears are a form of prevention and if a woman cannot get one done every three years then to try for at least every five years.

“The entire goal is to prevent getting cancer,” said Diagne.

After 30, it is advised women also get an HPV test done with the pap smear.

Diagne adds that 50 percent of sexually active women will develop HPV within 36 months, which can usually be cleared out on its own within 8-24 months. However, if the body does not clear out the virus, other treatments must be sought.

As with most cancers, the earlier it is detected, the better and because the progression of cervical cancer is about 6- 20 years, Diagne says there is still time and urges women to visit their OBGYN.

Pregnancy and Vaccine Safety

Pregnant women

Influenza (flu) vaccine safety studies are reporting good news for pregnant women. This research was presented at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) in October 2011.

Research shows:

Influenza vaccination during pregnancy protects newborns from getting influenza.

Pregnant women who get influenza vaccine pass their immunity to their babies in the form of flu antibodies. This protection lasts for several months after birth. Influenza protection was seen in newborns up to four months old. Babies born to women who were not vaccinated during pregnancy showed no antibody protection.

Influenza vaccination does not cause miscarriage.

Research shows no association between flu vaccination during pregnancy and miscarriage. This largest study conducted during the first trimester showed pregnant women who got the flu vaccine were no more likely to miscarry than those who did not get the flu vaccine.

More pregnant women are getting vaccinated against influenza.

The number of pregnant women receiving influenza vaccine has increased dramatically in the last couple of years in large part due to a national effort to vaccinate against the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza during the 2009-10 influenza season. Prior to 2009, less than 15 percent of pregnant women got vaccinated. In the past two influenza seasons, over half of pregnant women were vaccinated.

As usual, you can contact our office at 956-381-5190 for  an appointment or ask Dr. Diagne  any questions at your next visit

For more information on these studies, read the IDSA press releaseExternal Web Site Icon.


Be Aware of the Flu and Whooping Cough

Protect Babies from Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Whooping cough is very contagious and most severe for babies. People with whooping cough usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the bacteria that cause the disease. Many babies who get whooping cough are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Photo: A family: pregnant mom, dad and toddlerAbout half of babies younger than 1 year of age who get the disease need treatment in the hospital. About 1 in 4 hospitalized babies with whooping cough get pneumonia (lung infection), and about 2 in 3 babies will have trouble breathing. Whooping cough can be deadly for 1 or 2 in 100 babies who are hospitalized.

Because the disease can make babies so sick, and they can catch it from anyone around them, they need protection. These are the three important ways you can help protect them with vaccines:

  • If you are pregnant, get vaccinated in your third trimester.
  • Surround your baby with vaccinated family members and caregivers.
  • Make sure your baby gets his all doses of his whooping cough vaccine according to CDC’s recommended schedule.

Pregnant Women Need Whooping Cough Vaccine

Talk with your doctor about getting the whooping cough shot called Tdap, to protect yourself and your baby. CDC recommends you get your Tdap vaccine between the 27th and 36th week of each pregnancy. After you get the shot, your body will create protective antibodies (proteins produced by the body to fight off diseases) and pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies provide your baby some short-term protection against whooping cough in early life. These antibodies can also protect your baby from some of the more serious complications that come along with whooping cough, such as pneumonia (lung infection) and encephalopathy (disease of the brain). In addition to whooping cough, Tdap vaccine combines protection against tetanus and diphtheria.

Everyone Around Your Baby Needs a Whooping Cough Vaccine

Anyone who comes in close contact with your baby, from older siblings and cousins to grandparents and caregivers, should be up-to-date with whooping cough vaccination. Only one dose of Tdap is recommended for most people 11 years and older. Currently, the only group that CDC recommends get more than one dose of this vaccine is pregnant women (each time they are pregnant).

Graphic: Protect babies from whooping cough. Find out how.Check out CDC’s whooping cough infographic.

The ideal time to get Tdap is at 11 or 12 years of age. Teens who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen should get one dose next time they visit their doctor. CDC recommends that all adults 19 years of age and older who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen or teen should get one dose of Tdap.

You can get Tdap no matter when you got your last tetanus shot (Td). Getting vaccinated with Tdap at least two weeks before coming into close contact with a baby is especially important for families with and caregivers of newborns. These two weeks are important because they give your body enough time to build up immunity (antibodies) against whooping cough.

Keep Your Baby’s Whooping Cough Vaccine Current

Getting the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy provides your baby some short-term protection, but he needs his own vaccine to protect him as he grows up. In the United States, the recommended whooping cough vaccine for children is called DTaP. This is a safe and effective vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. For best protection against whooping cough, children need five doses of DTaP—one dose at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15 through 18 months
  • 4 through 6 years

Know the Signs of Whooping Cough

Whooping cough disease starts like the common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe a mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.

Unlike the common cold, whooping cough can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. Whooping cough can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. In babies, the cough can be minimal or not even there. They may instead have life-threatening pauses in breathing (apnea).

Whooping cough vaccines are very effective for protecting babies, but not 100% effective. Vaccine protection for whooping cough also decreases over time. If whooping cough is circulating in the community, there is still a chance that a fully vaccinated person can catch this very contagious disease. If you get the vaccine and still get whooping cough, you will have fewer coughing fits, shorter illness, and be less likely to suffer from disease complications.

When you or your child develops a cold that includes a prolonged or severe cough, it may be whooping cough. The best way to know is to contact your doctor.

Dr. Diagne recommends the flu and the whooping cough vaccine if you are pregnant.

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