Marking January's Cervical Health Awareness Month, Experts Note that Cervical Cancer is Preventable - which Starts with Regular Screening
Noting that cervical cancer is preventable and that proper screening is key to early detection, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is calling on women to resolve to protect their cervical health during January's Cervical Health Awareness Month.
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.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is one of the area's leading women's health care providers and offers a wide range of reproductive health services including Pap tests, and HPV vaccines. The agency currently provides HPV vaccinations for free to both women and men. Pap tests, as well as some additional diagnosis and treatment services, are also provided. UHPP staff work closely with local specialists to provide clients with referral options for further cancer screening and treatment, and work to ensure that cost does not prove a barrier to service.
"The good news is that routine screening and vaccination against HPV can protect women against cervical cancer," said Chelly Hegan, UHPP President/CEO. "That's why it's important for women to take these important protective measures. The best protection is regular visits with a healthcare professional. You may not need a Pap test as often as you think, but annual check-ups allow you and your provider to discuss your health and to keep you up to date on all the care you need. All too often older women ignore their GYN care because they are no longer worried about pregnancy, but their health matters and we are here to keep all women healthy!"
In 2012 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. Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood's 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. Most women aged 30 to 64, should have routine screenings performed every three to five years.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood notes that screening for cervical cancer is essential throughout a woman's life, even if she is not currently engaging in sexual activity or if her partner is a woman. Women should see their health care provider to get regular Pap tests.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends HPV vaccination for boys and 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 here and a new infographic that details the cervical-cancer-prevention steps that women and their daughters should take at different periods of their lives.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (UHPP) is a community-based non-profit organization providing advocacy, education and medical services for reproductive health care since 1934. Ninety percent of UHPP services are preventive, including life saving cancer screening, GYN exams, birth control and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. In 2012, over 15,000 patients made more than 22,000 visits to UHPP health centers located in Albany, Hudson and Troy. UHPP health educators presented over 800 education programs reaching more than 5,000 young people. UHPP is committed to compassionate and respectful care to all people regardless of their ability to pay.