Boston, MA - January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the New Year is a perfect time to take charge of your health by checking in with your health care provider about any important preventive screenings you may be due for. This January, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) is urging women to find out if they’re due for a cervical cancer screening, and for parents to learn more about the HPV vaccine.
“Taking care of your cervical health is important,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, President and Chief Executive Officer of PPLM. “Anyone with a cervix can develop cervical cancer, so if you’re over age 21, Planned Parenthood encourages you to talk with your health care provider to see if you are due for a screening, and encourage your loved ones to do the same.”
A study published last year in the journal Cancer from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health departments indicates that since the introduction of HPV vaccines, abnormal changes in the cervix that can lead to cancer have fallen dramatically among young women in the U.S.
The study analyzed data from four U.S. states collected between 2008 and 2012. Among women aged 18 to 20, reported abnormal cervical lesions decreased dramatically over the four-year period. In California, the rate per 100,000 women fell from 94 in 2008 to five in 2012. In Connecticut, the rate per 100,000 fell from 450 to 57.
“We hope research like this can help show why it is so important for parents to vaccinate their children against HPV,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak. “As parents, we feel a responsibility to keep our children safe and healthy. Parents need to understand that the HPV vaccine can prevent cancer.”
Background on the HPV vaccine and cervical health:
- Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers when protective measures such as getting the HPV vaccine, getting HPV/Pap tests, and using condoms (when sexually active) are taken.
- The HPV vaccine is one of only two vaccines that work to prevent cancer and is supported by leading medical organizations as safe and effective. The FDA has approved this vaccine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has included it in its list of recommended vaccines for girls and boys aged 11-12.
- Leading medical groups, including the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, as well as Planned Parenthood, support young men and women having access to the HPV vaccine.
- Medical guidance recommends that both girls and boys get the vaccination when they are 11 to 12 years old because the vaccine works best when people receive it before they start having sex. However, even those who have had sex can benefit from the vaccine; it is generally available for anyone aged 9-26.
- Nine years after the introduction of the HPV vaccine, research has shown that the HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing HPV-related cancers and that we’ve made significant progress in curbing the spread of HPV.
- Research shows that HPV among teen girls has declined by 56 percent.
- However, there is still more progress to be made; there are 14 million new cases of HPV in the U.S. each year and the CDC reports that only 39.7 percent of U.S. girls ages 13 to 17 have received all three recommended doses of the vaccine.
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts provides HPV vaccines, cervical cancer screenings, pap tests as well as testing and treatment for STI’s at our seven health centers across Massachusetts. PPLM offers walk-in, same day, and scheduled appointments.
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) is the largest freestanding reproductive health care provider and advocate in the Commonwealth, providing sexual and reproductive health care to more than 30,000 patients per year. PPLM provides a wide range of preventive health care services including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment as well as abortion services. We ensure that women have accurate information about all of their options. For 88 years, PPLM has protected and promoted sexual and reproductive health and rights through clinical services, education and advocacy. For more information, visit www.pplm.org.
Paul Gels, Communications Coordinator, (617) 515-0531
January 27, 2016