January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and health care providers are unanimous in stressing this importance. The reason is clear — cervical cancer is preventable when women make use of vaccinations and screening activities such as Pap tests and HPV tests.
Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer on an annual basis. The 5-year survival rates after diagnosis are 69% for Caucasian women and 57% for African-American women, but with early detection, the percentages improve dramatically to 91%. As the National Cervical Cancer Coalition notes, virtually all deaths from cervical cancer are preventable, because regularly scheduled screening protocols can provide women with the protection they need.
The traditional form of screening involved an annual Pap test, but recent advances offer significant improvement in the process. Now Pap tests can be self-administered or can be conducted in combination with HPV tests. The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF)’s revised guidelines now recommend screenings as little as every 3 years for women between 21 and 65.
As with many health conditions, awareness and early detection are essential, and this is especially true for cervical health. To learn more and to participate in spreading the word, visit the NCCC website for resources and more information.