January has been designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month by the National Cervical Cancer Coalition and the American Social Health Association. This initiative helps raise awareness and encourages women to receive regular screenings for cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer which is one of the most common cancers found in women. However early detection can lessen the severity of both diseases and prevent the development of abnormal or cancerous cells.
It is recommended that women receive regular screenings to check the health of their cervixes. The frequency of screenings varies by age and the following time period is as recommended by The American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org):
- All women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21.
- Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. They should not be tested for HPV unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
- Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have both a Pap test and an HPV test every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
- Women over age 65 who have had regular screenings with normal results should not be screened for cervical cancer. Women who have been diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer should continue to be screened.
- Women who have had their uterus and cervix removed in a hysterectomy and have no history of cervical cancer or pre-cancer should not be screened.
In addition to receiving screenings it is strongly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that women and men receive HPV vaccinations to stop the spread of the virus.
Please speak with your doctor as soon as possible about steps you can take to maintain your cervical health and remember, prevention is better than cure.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.