By Lauren Wendl, EI blogger
January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month, and serves as an important reminder to keep up with regular health screenings to ensure that our bodies are not at serious risk for disease. This specific type of cancer is found in the cervix, and is caused when normal cells in the cervix change into cancer, usually over the course of several years. According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States every year. However, the NCCC notes that cervical cancer is preventable, and recommends regular PAP and HPV tests as an effective way to reduce the risk of getting cervical cancer.
There are certain factors that make an individual more susceptible to cervical cancer, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, smoking, having a weakened immune system, and not including enough fruits and vegetables in your diet. Although there are several more risk factors, doctors suggest focusing on reducing your risk of disease in ways that are within your control, such as getting more exercise or eating healthier. It is important to continue to get regular screenings in order to maintain awareness of risks outside of our control, such as family history of cervical cancer.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women should begin testing for cervical cancer at age 21, and women from 21 to 29 years of age should have a Pap test every 3 years, and transitioning to getting a Pap test ever 5 years from age 30 to 65. The ACS states that once women reach the age of 65 and have had regular cervical cancer screenings without pre-cancers found in the past 10 years, they do not need to continue with screenings. Women of any age should NOT be screened every year by any screening method, and should maintain the 3-5 year screening routine.
For more information on cervical cancer and Cervical Health Awareness Month, please visit the following links:
The NCCC provides multiple resources regarding cervical cancer, including an overview of the disease, different screenings individuals should have regularly as preventative care, common facts and myths regarding the disease, and ways to get involved in National Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Visit the American Cancer Society website to learn more about risk factors for cervical cancer, potential financial issues that could arise during the screening process, as well as general information about the disease.