Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: Know Your Status

01/09/2015 - Kendra Hooks

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month! 

Nearly two decades ago, experts discovered a relationship between the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer.  Many men and women will contract HPV at some point in their lives but they will never know it due to a lack of symptoms or disease development.  This is because out of the 100 plus types of HPV, 3 specific strands account for 99% of cervical cancer types alone.  Luckily, preventative measures have been implemented to detect these strands early. 

Cervical cancer is extremely preventable because of the screenings and vaccinations that are available.  Despite this availability, 12,109 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2011, while 4,092 women died from the disease that year according to the Center for Disease and Prevention’s (CDC).  Affecting both men and women, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection.  Half of cervical cancers occur among women rarely or never screened for cancer, and another 10%–20% of cancers occur among women who were screened but did not receive adequate follow-up care. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.

For women aged 21–65 years, regular cervical cancer screening can help prevent cancer. The Papanicolaou (Pap) test detects precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cancerous if they are not treated appropriately. Women should start getting Pap tests at age 21 years and every 3 years thereafter. Women who are aged ≥30 years should choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test. If both test results are normal, additional testing is not needed for 5 years.  For the younger population, the HPV vaccine recommended for girls and boys at 11 or 12 years old.  For more information concerning the vaccine and related procedures, please contact your physician. 

Remember:  If you are overdue, schedule your check-up today!


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