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Advocate for Cervical Health Awareness This Month

2018 is upon us; with it comes opportunities to improve our health and to learn about health concerns our loved ones may face. One approach to do so is to recognize annual health awareness observances such as January as Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Promoting awareness resources about specific and often preventable health concerns throughout the year is an active step we can all take to advocate for more discussions, more questions, more media coverage, and most importantly more knowledge about diseases that impact millions.

Resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), and the American Cancer Society (ACS) show us how pervasive HPV and cervical cancer are:

  • At any time, there are approximately 79 million people in the United States with HPV1.
  • There are 14 million new HPV infections in the United States each year1.
  • HPV is so common that most people get it at some time in their lives and usually causes no symptoms2.
  • If HPV does not go away on its own, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer2.
  • While the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50% thanks to the increased use of the Pap test, nearly 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are estimated to have been diagnosed in 20173.

What can you do? 

  • Talk to your doctor about your health as well as the health of loved ones.  Vaccines can help prevent infection from both high risk and low risk HPV and are recommended for all boys and girls at the age of 11 until the age of 261.
  • Know the risk factors. The CDC notes that smoking, using birth control pills, giving birth to 3 or more children, and having several sexual partners are all risks for cervical cancer2.
  • Get tested. Schedule a cervical cancer screening and/or a Pap test. A Pap test can find cell changes to the cervix caused by HPV. HPV tests find the virus and help healthcare providers know which women are at highest risk for cervical cancer1.
  • Understand the options. There is no treatment for HPV, but there are options to treat diseases caused by the virus.
  • Advocate for the importance of early detection. Talk to your loved ones about this disease and make sure they know it’s preventable. Ask your local media to cover Cervical Health Awareness Month. Ask your local legislators to publicly recognize this important health observance.
  • Consider finding support. Reach out to online communities at Inspire.com, a website that specializes in connecting patients, partners, and caregivers to resources they may need.

 

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Sources:

1: “Ten Things to Know About HPV and Cervical Cancer.” National Cervical Cancer Coalition. http://www.nccc-online.org/images/pdfs/10ThingsHPV_CCAM.pdf

2: “What Are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer?” Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

3: “What Are the Key Statistics About Cervical Cancer?” American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/about/key-statistics.html