Did you know that with vaccination and appropriate screening, cervical cancer is almost always preventable? And yet, “[n]early 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year,” (National Cervical Cancer Coalition) and about a third of those women will die due to this cancer (Healthy Women). If you are not vaccinated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, and you don’t make regular screening a priority, you are putting yourself at an unnecessary risk for cervical cancer. Make the most of Cervical Health Awareness Month this January and read on to learn more about your part in preventing cervical cancer!
What is Cervical Cancer?
“Cervical cancer starts in the cells lining the cervix — the lower part of the uterus (womb),” (American Cancer Society). The normal cells of the cervix can develop pre-cancerous characteristics which can be identified with a Pap test. These pre-cancerous cells may develop into cervical cancers of ten different varieties, though some varieties are more common than others.
The Basics about Prevention
The reason why Cervical Health Awareness is so important is because cervical cancer is highly preventable. “[O]ver the last 30 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50%,” an encouraging statistic only possible with the increased number of screening tests provided for American women (American Cancer Society). Those who are diagnosed with cervical cancer are often women who have rarely, or have never, had a Pap test. Preventative measures for cervical cancer are simple, but important, and include the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and a regular Pap test. How often you should receive a Pap test has to do with your age, and whether or not you carry any other risk factors.
Are you Covered?
Unfortunately, financial issues play a big role in whether women receive their recommended cervical health screenings or not. If you don’t know whether you’re covered for a regular Pap test, it’s important to check with your health insurance. “Many states ensure that private insurance companies, Medicaid, and public employee health plans pay for Pap test screening,” (American Cancer Society). Once you know your level of coverage, it’s as simple as booking a gynecologist appointment for your next Pap test to start preventing cervical cancer.
When it comes to your health, you are your own best advocate! By taking advantage of all that your health insurance plan has to offer, you will hopefully have affordable access to these critical prevention methods. Be sure to contact Newman Regional Health with any further questions and share this information with family and friends by using #CervicalHealthMonth today!