With Cervical Cancer Awareness Month being observed in January, now is a great time to discuss human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and how they can help prevent cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States and over 4,000 will die from the disease. The American Cancer Society provides yearly information on a range of topics, including:
• Survival rates and trends of cancer types
• Estimated new cancer cases and deaths
• Prevention and early detection
• Treatment developments
Previously known as the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States, cervical cancer is now the most preventable form of cancer, thanks to early screening and the HPV vaccine. HPV is not cancer itself, but it is associated with changes to the body that can cause cancer. This includes cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men. HPV can also cause anal cancer in both men and women.
To prevent these cancers, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that boys and girls ages 11-12 receive the HPV vaccine. Young men ages 13-21 and young women ages 13-26 who have not yet been vaccinated should also get the vaccine.
Testing is another way to prevent cervical cancer. The two most common tests are the Pap test (or Pap smear), which focuses on changes in the cervix, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test. Both tests help doctors to see any changes or cancer-related growths on cells.
Ideally, screening should continue annually for women after age 21. With the recent onset of COVID-19, one way you can receive health-related information and advice is by contacting your telehealth provider to create a plan for prevention.
National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC)
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition works to educate the community on events, fundraisers, health fairs, awareness walks/runs, and chapter listings for locations near you. The NCCC also has many resources and research-related information for cervical cancer survivors and their family members.
Although January is the designated month for Cervical Cancer Awareness, local and state chapters of the NCCC host multiple events throughout the year. One of the best ways that you can fight cervical cancer is by getting vaccinated and/or screened yourself. Get in touch with us today to schedule a telehealth or in-person visit.