LeAnn Rimes Has Surgery to Remove Precancerous Cells

By Patty Kim - January 17, 2024

Singer LeAnn Rimes, 41, had minor surgery to remove abnormal cells found during a routine Pap smear. She shared the news on Instagram to encourage men and women to have their annual physicals.

Rimes has had abnormal Pap smears since she was 17, which is why she focuses on regular women’s wellness exams. The latest showed she had high grade cervical dysplasia, where abnormal cells grow on the surface of the cervix. Left untreated, these abnormal cells can lead to cervical cancer.

“Early stages of cervical cancer don’t usually involve symptoms, so annual screenings and early detection can be lifesaving,” Rimes posted on Instagram.

Moffitt Cancer Center experts stress the importance of being proactive with your health.

“Screening and prevention make a huge difference. Do it!” said Dr. Robert Wenham, chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Moffitt.

In 2023, nearly 14,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S., and about 4,300 died of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Research shows that more women are being diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer nationwide.

Wenham says there are several possible reasons for this including lower rates of physical exams, Pap smears and HPV vaccination, as well as not having access to health care.

“For advanced stage cancers, it can include all these reasons and likely does in varying degrees in different populations,” Wenham said. “For example, the increased rate seen in Southern U.S. white women could be due to the lower rates of HPV vaccination and the lower rates of recommended screening the study noted. For Black women, a lack of health care access or a tendency to delay going to the doctor when signs develop could contribute to more advanced cases.”

Wenham also points to another possible factor based on the type of cervical cancer. There are two main types: squamous and adenocarcinoma. The study shows that the rate of adenocarcinomas is increasing 2.9% per year, which has been seen for some time.

“There are at least a couple reasons for this. One is that these cancers come from the inner part of the cervix rather than the more exposed outer part. This means it is harder to pick up on Pap smears and can grow bigger before it is picked up on exam,” Wenham said.

He also notes that the most common cancer-causing types of HPV are 16 and 18. Type 16 favors squamous cancers and type 18 favors adenocarcinomas. An increase in type 18 may contribute to the rise in this harder to detect adenocarcinoma type.

Over the past 20 years, Wenham says the average stage for new diagnoses of cervical cancer has become more advanced. As the only National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center based in Florida, Moffitt typically sees patients with advanced stage disease.

“The good news is we are more successful than not in curing pelvic confined disease during first treatment,” Wenham said. “It takes a highly specialized multidisciplinary team of experts to do this. And for some select patients who have had treatment already and whose cancer has come back in the pelvis, we have the rare expertise to perform a very radical surgery achieving cure in about half of women. Even those for whom there is no curative therapy, the survival times are improving with new therapies. Moffitt also offers innovative clinical trials.” 

CERVICAL CANCER SCREENING

  • Ages 21-30: Have a Pap test every three years. For abnormal results, follow this up with an HPV test.
  • Ages 30-65: Have a Pap test every three years or a Pap and HPV test together every five years.
  • Age 65+: Talk with your health care provider to determine if screening is needed.
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy and no history of cervical cancer or pre-cancer do not need to be screened.

Because cervical cancer usually does not have symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, screening is critical. This begins with an annual well woman visit and physical exam. Women should begin routine cervical cancer screening at 21.

“This is definitely an example of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Wenham said. “Despite the fact that we are successful in either curing or helping many patients live longer, the treatments can be very challenging and have short- and long-term effects. Get your vaccinations and have guideline treatment with your health care expert.”

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Patty Kim Public Relations Director 813-456-3342 More Articles

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