The United States Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. Cervical Health Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise an understanding about how women can protect themselves from HPV and cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, and many with HPV don’t even know they are infected. Almost 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, however the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.
How can you help spread the word?
- Add information about HPV and cervical cancer prevention to your newsletters and emails
- Post on social media about Cervical Health Awareness Month
- Host a community event to raise awareness about cervical health
- Provide cervical cancer handouts to patients or students on your campus
- Share powerful stories
- Encourage women to get their well-woman visit this year
- Let women know that most insurance plans must cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screenings.
- Talk about the HPV vaccine
HPV vaccines can help prevent infections from both high-risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts. It is recommended that both girls and boys get the HPV vaccine at the ages of 11 or 12. If the vaccine is used before the age of 14, only two doses are required. For those getting vaccinated ages 15 and up need to get the full three-dose series.
- Pap test: During a pap test, doctors scrapes and brushes cells from the cervix, which are then examined for abnormalities. A pap test can detect abnormal cells in the cervix, including cancer cells and cells that show changes that increase the risk of cervical cancer.
- HPV DNA test: The HPV DNA test involves testing cells collected from the cervix for infection with any type of HPV that are most likely to lead to cervical cancer.
Stages of Cervical Cancer:
- Stage I: Cancer is confined to the cervix
- Stage II: Cancer is present in the cervix and upper portion of the vagina
- Stage III: Cancer has moved to the lower portion of the vagina or internally to the pelvic side wall
- Stage IV: Cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the bladder or rectum, or it has spread to other areas of the body, such as lungs, liver or bones
- Surgery: Early-stage cervical cancer is typically treated with surgery to remove the uterus.
- Radiation: Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. This may be used alone or with chemotherapy before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses medications injected into a vein to kill cancer cells.
To donate to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, click here