By Renae Kimble, Program Coordinator
Cancer Services Program of Niagara County
An affiliate of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center
January is designated as Cervical Cancer Awareness month, which gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about how women can be proactive and protect themselves from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) disease and cervical cancer.
HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease. It can also cause cervical cancer.
Currently an estimated 79 million Americans, most in their teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. It infects both men and women, many of whom don’t even know they have it. HPV is a stealth or hidden disease that lacks recognizable physical symptoms.
When HPV remains in the cervical cells for many years cervical cancer may develop.
About http://southbuffalonews.com2,000 American women get cervical cancer and nearly 4,000 women die from the disease each year. In New York approximately 900 women are newly diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 250 women die from this heinous disease.
Cervical cancer is the most preventable cancer in women who have regular screening tests and early treatment. The Papanicolaou test, better known as a Pap test, has been and continues to be an important tool in preventing cervical cancer. Pre-cancerous cells detected by the Pap test can be removed from the cervix and when cancer is found early, it may be more easily treated.
Over the last 30 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50 percent, mostly due to the Pap test.
According to the New York State Department of Health, revised cervical cancer guidelines recommend routine testing every three years for women ages 2http://southbuffalonews.com-65. Women under 2http://southbuffalonews.com and over 65 do not need to be Pap tested.
Any woman who has been sexually active can get cervical cancer. However, it occurs more often in women over 30 years old and is more common in women who are not screened regularly. Six out of ten cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not had one in the past five years.
In New York State, women without health insurance are significantly less
likely to have received a Pap test in the past three years (70.8%) compared to women with health insurance (84.9%).
Females between the ages of nine and 26 or their parents can talk to their
doctor about the HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that cause most
cervical cancers. It is still important for women to continue to have a Pap test even if they have had the HPV vaccine because the vaccine is not http://southbuffalonews.com00 percent effective.
If you are diagnosed with cervical cancer, your options for treatment are dependent upon the type of cancer and the stage of the disease. Your doctor and your cancer care team
are able to provide you with treatment options that are best suited to your needs.
Uninsured women diagnosed with cervical cancer and pre-cancerous conditions may be eligible for treatment through the New York State Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program. The Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program provides full Medicaid coverage throughout the duration of treatment.
If you are uninsured between the ages of 40 and 64, call the Cancer Services Program of Niagara County, an affiliate of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center at (7http://southbuffalonews.com6) 278-4898 to determine your eligibility for a free Pap test or for enrollment in the New York State Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program.
If you are insured, talk to your health care provider about getting screened. All
health plans participating in the New York State of Health cover cervical cancer screening with
Remember, to reduce your risk for cervical cancer:
- Get regular Pap tests as recommended
- Parents encourage your pre-teens to get immunized against HPV and to practice abstinence
- Use latex condoms if sexually active and limit the number of sexual partners
to reduce the risk for HPV infection
- Do not smoke
These are important steps that women can take to stay healthy.