Experts Note that Cervical Cancer is Preventable
DENVER – Noting that cervical cancer is preventable and that proper screening is key to early detection, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is calling on women to resolve to protect their cervical health during January’s Cervical Health Awareness Month.
PPRM, the area’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate, provides, on average, over 15,000 Pap tests each year. Regular Pap tests are one of the most effective ways to detect cervical cancer early. Every year, approximately 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,000 American women die of the disease. If detected early, the five-year survival rate for cervical cancer is almost 100 percent. The human papillomavirus, or HPV, can lead to cervical cancer; PPRM provides over 2,000 HPV vaccinations each year.
“The good news is that routine screening and vaccination against HPV can protect women against cervical cancer,” said Amy Dickson, vice president of clinical operations. “That’s why it’s important for women to know when and how often to take these important protective measures. The guidelines for screening have changed, and most women need it less frequently, but they should still make routine screening a priority, and continue visits with their provider for other, more frequent reproductive health screenings and family planning services.”
In 2012 several health advisory groups and medical professional organizations reviewed years of data and updated their recommendations on how often women should be screened for cervical cancer. PPRM’s updated guidelines reflect those recommendations and call for Pap screening to begin at age 21, and for most women to be screened every three years up to age 29. For women aged 30 to 64, most should have routine screenings performed every three years using Pap testing or every five years using combined Pap and HPV testing.
PPRM notes that screening for cervical cancer is essential during most of a woman’s adult life, even if she is not currently engaging in sexual activity or if her partner is a woman. Women should go to a health care provider to get regular Pap tests, even if they are not seeing a provider for prescription contraception.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends HPV vaccination for girls aged 11 and 12. In order to be most effective, HPV vaccination should occur prior to the start of sexual intimacy.
As a part of the effort to raise awareness and prevent cervical cancer, Planned Parenthood is offering resources that can help women take charge of their cervical health. They include an updated webpage that provides a one-stop shop for what women need to know about cervical cancer, and a new infographic that details the cervical-cancer-prevention steps that women and their daughters should take at different periods of their lives.
January 03, 2013