The month of January marks not only a new year, but also highlights an important topic in women’s health – cervical health awareness. Why not add prevention to your list of New Year’s Resolutions?
Cervical cancer occurs when cells of the lower portion of the uterus, known as the cervix, grow uncontrollably. Cervical cancer affects approximately twelve-thousand women each year, and about one-third of women diagnosed will die. But, did you know that cervical cancer is preventable and treatable? In fact, deaths due to cervical cancer have been declining at a rate of 2 percent per year due thanks to a tool used by doctors known as a Pap test. A Pap test identifies cell changes in the cervix caused by a sexually-transmitted infection known as HPV, or Human Papillomavirus. Additional HPV testing can determine the type of HPV present. Almost all cervical cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV.
Low-risk HPV strains are seldom linked to cervical cancer; the high-risk strains are usually the cancer-causing culprits. There are two HPV vaccinations available that can protect against HPV infection, Cervarix and Gardasil. Both vaccines are available for females, and Gardasil is available for males.
For insured female patients, the first step to playing an active role in your health is easy! Just make your annual appointment since preventable services, such as Pap tests, are covered by insurance plans. For uninsured female patients, the Connecticut Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program (CBCCEDP) can help you find low-cost or free Pap testing in your area.
If you have any questions about HPV and cervical cancer, join the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, NCCC (@StopHPVCancer) on Twitter today, January 6th at 2:00 pm and use the tag #CervicalHealthMonth!