Three Things Women Should Know About Cervical Cancer
January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month
DETROIT – January 14, 2010 – Each year, about 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and nearly 4,000 women die from the disease. Health Alliance Plan (HAP) is urging women to learn how to reduce their risk for cervical cancer and get recommended screenings, even if they are uninsured.
WHO SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT CERVICAL CANCER?
All women are at risk for cancer of the cervix – the narrow end of the uterus that connects the womb to the birth canal. Women between the ages of 18 and 65 who have ever been sexually active are at routine risk for cervical cancer. The risk is higher for women who have had Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex; women who were sexually active before age 18 and have had multiple sex partners; and women who smoke.
HOW CAN WOMEN DECREASE THEIR RISK FOR CERVICAL CANCER?
Pap test: Pap tests increase the chance of finding cervical cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most curable. When cervical cancer is discovered in a later stage, the survival rate is lower, and treatment is often more invasive and painful. Women should have a Pap test every year starting at age 18. Women who have had three normal tests may only need to have a Pap test every three years; those over age 65 with consistently normal Pap tests may not need further testing. Consult your health care provider for advice.
HPV Vaccine: The Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines are designed to protect against two cancer-causing types of HPV that are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers. According to Michigan Quality Improvement Consortium (MQIC) guidelines, HPV vaccine is routinely recommended for all girls between age 11 and 12 and for girls and women 13 to 26 years of age who did not receive the vaccine when they were younger.
Practice Safe Sex: Use a condom during sexual intercourse to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and limit your number of sexual partners.
Stop Smoking: Talk to your health care provider if you are ready to kick the habit.
IS HELP AVAILABLE FOR LOW INCOME AND UNINSURED WOMEN?
Michigan's Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) provides free annual breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to eligible low income and uninsured women across Michigan. Call 800-922-6266 or visit www.michigancancer.org/bcccp for more information about eligibility requirements or participating BCCCP providers.
For more information about National Cervical Health Awareness Month, visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) Web site: www.nccc-online.org . Michigan Cervical Cancer Facts are available from the Michigan Department of Community Health at: www.michigancancer.org/PDFs/MDCHFactSheets/