January is Cervical Health Awareness Month
According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, 70% of all adults have been infected with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the virus that leads to cervical cancer and genital warts. Fortunately, the majority of these individuals do not develop cervical cancer or warts. Often, their body’s immune system will naturally suppress the virus. However, for those whose body’s do not, knowing how to detect cancer early can make the difference between life and death.
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Since the 1940’s the National Cervical Cancer Coalition credits early detection tests with a 70% reduction in deaths from cervical cancer. As soon as a woman reaches the age of 21, she should begin getting regular pap tests, a test that looks at the cellular growth of the cervix. If abnormal cellular growth is detected, further testing may be required with a test called a colposcopy. Recent guidelines now advise that women, who have normal pap tests, may be able to have less frequent pap tests. This is something that needs to be discussed with their health care provider.
Furthermore, unlike the 1940’s, there are two vaccines now available that have the potential of greatly reducing risk and incidence of cervical cancer. It is recommended for girls and boys to get the vaccine between the ages of 11-26. Regular use of condoms during sexual activity can also greatly reduce the risk. However, HPV is transmitted skin to skin and no intercourse is actually necessary to spread the virus.
Unfortunately, HPV infection is often symptomless and an individual is unaware that they are infected. For this reason it is important for women to get regular cervical checks with a healthcare provider. Every Friday from 8:30-3, Lebanon Family Health Services offers a walk-in-clinic for individuals to receive any of our medical services. One service that is available is gynecological exams offered free or low cost based on household size and income. As part of Cervical Health Awareness Month, take the first step in preventing cervical cancer. Call our office to schedule an appointment-273-6741 or stop in during Friday walk-in clinic times.