- January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the New Year is a great time for women to take stock of their health and determine if they're due for important preventive screenings such as Pap and HPV tests, which detect irregularities that can lead to cervical cancer.
- The guidelines for cervical cancer screenings have changed! Women should talk with their providers to see how often they should be screened based on their age and cervical heath history. A regular well-woman visit is the perfect opportunity for a woman to discuss how frequently she needs cervical cancer and other gynecological screenings.
- As the nation's leading women's health care provider, advocate, and educator, Planned Parenthood encourages every woman to visit her health care provider regularly to receive a checkup that may include contraceptive counseling and birth control prescriptions, breast exams, testing for STDs, including HIV, and cervical cancer screening, when indicated.
- Every year, about 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,000 American women die of the disease. The good news is that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers: when caught early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent.
- The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer in women, and other forms of cancer like throat and anal cancers in men and women. These HPV related cancers are on the rise in the U.S.
- HPV is so common that most sexually active people should expect to be exposed to it and, if not vaccinated, infected by HPV at some point in their lives. Most people who have or have had HPV don't know it.
- HPV vaccination before sexual intimacy, along with regular Pap testing and HPV screening are the best methods to protect against cervical cancer.
- In addition, condoms can help reduce, but not completely prevent, the risk for HPV transmission.
- Widespread HPV vaccination is a crucial part of the effort to eliminate cervical cancer. That's why Planned Parenthood believes that every girl aged 11-12 should have access to the HPV vaccination.
- The HPV vaccine is a major breakthrough in the fight to prevent cervical cancer and should be considered a routine, normal part of health care.
- The FDA has approved this vaccine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has included it in its list of recommended vaccines for children aged 11-12.
- The best way to protect against cervical and other HPV related cancers is to make sure children or young adults get vaccinated before they are at risk of HPV infection, and that they have routine Pap tests beginning at age 21.
- Cervical health is important at all stages of adult life. All people at risk for cervical cancer should take steps to prevent it and catch it early when it is most treatable.
- Minority groups like Latinas, African Americans and Native Americans tend to have higher death rates due to cervical cancer. These outcomes reflect a larger problem of unequal access to early screening and treatment.
- Cervical cancer can strike women before or after menopause and it's never too late to start getting screened.
Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan
425 Cherry St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 9503