January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition says nearly 13,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. However, the disease is preventable with proper medical care.

What is cervical cancer?

Cancer of the cervix usually grows slowly and is closely associated with HPV infection. Preventing HPV infection and early detection of pre-cancerous cells on the cervix via Pap smears are key in preventing this cancer.

What is HPV?

The Human Papillomavirus is so common that nearly everyone will get it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people will experience no health problems from an HPV infection, but in some cases it can lead to cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus and back of the throat.

How can cervical cancer be prevented?

HPV vaccination and early detection via regular Pap smears, which detects pre-cancerous changes, are the best preventions. You can also have an HPV test at the same time you have your Pap.

Does safer sex help prevent cervical cancer?

The American Cancer Society notes that using condoms is only partially protective against HPV, because condoms don’t cover the entire area susceptible to infection.

How often should women get a Pap test?

The American Cancer Society recommends all women begin screening at age 21, that women aged 21-29 be screened every three years, that women aged 30-65 get a Pap and HPV test every three to five years and that women 65 and older who have had regular screenings should not be screened. However, women aged 65 and older who have had pre-cancers should continue screenings.

Have you had your Pap?

If you are looking for a medical provider, contact one of Culbertson’s clinics, conveniently located in Astoria, Beardstown, Rushville and Table Grove.