Did you know that January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month? Each year nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Of those 13,000 women more than 4,000 of them will die as a result. The main cause of cervical cancer is the virus known as Human Papilloma Virus. As a part of our commitment to reproductive health we’d like to highlight the importance of HPV awareness, cervical cancer prevention, and overall cervical health.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most commonly transmitted STI. It can cause genital warts, cancer, and can change cells in the cervix. The most common forms of HPV are preventable with a series of three shots, known as Gardasil. It is recommended that both men and women become vaccinated sometime between the ages of 11 and 26. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can also cause cancer of the mouth, throat, anus, penis, vagina, as well as cause genital warts. The CDC states that nearly all sexually active women and men will come into contact with at least one strand of HPV in their lifetimes which makes vaccination crucial.
Starting at the age of 21, it is recommended that women receive their first Pap smear, and every three years after that. This is because pap smears can help detect changes in cell structure. Some women may need a PAP smear more often if they have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal results. Getting regular PAP smears can help detect the changes in cervical cells before they turn into cancer, as well as the early stages of cancer. The earlier a provider can detect these changes, the higher the likelihood of survival.
PAP smears are typically free and covered by insurance, even if it’s a high deductible plan. Call Family Planning at 607-687-5333 to schedule an appointment. Services are offered on a sliding fee scale and most insurances are accepted.