Did you know that it is possible to stop women from getting cervical cancer? Do you know how you can help? The answer is quite simple. All you have to do is use your voice to spread awareness about cervical cancer and HPV and the importance of regular screenings (Pap tests). As a cancer survivor, you are one of the strongest voices for the importance of cancer screenings. Sharing how screening and early detection affected your life is important, no matter if it is with one person or one hundred.
Why is it important to encourage cervical cancer screenings?
Women in Louisiana have significantly higher cervical cancer rates and deaths than the rest of the United States. Promoting regular Pap tests to woman ages 21-65 can help to reduce the number of cervical cancer cases and deaths in Louisiana. Pap tests are a reliable and effective screening test for cervical cancer. The Pap test looks for pre-cancers or cell changes in the cervix that can become cancer if left untreated.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a common virus that has been shown to cause genital warts, as well as HPV-associated cancer—the most common being cervical cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) HPV is estimated to cause nearly 27,000 cancers each year in the United States, including more than 90 percent of cervical cancer cases. When talking about Pap tests, also mention the HPV test. Women ages 30-65 can co-test, meaning they can receive a Pap test and HPV test during their well-woman visit. The HPV test looks for the human papillomavirus that can cause cell changes in the cervix.
Not only can you encourage the women in your life to get screened regularly, you can also talk to them about the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine has been shown to be effective in preventing cervical cancer. The vaccine is available for both male and females ages 9-26; however, it is recommended that 11-12 year olds get vaccinated to prevent future cancers.
How can you raise awareness?
Be a voice in your community. Here are some suggestions:
- Plan a cervical cancer awareness event at your church.
- Plan a “Girls Night In” for friends or family. Have information on cervical cancer and HPV available and discuss the importance of screening. The American Cancer Society and CDC have educational materials on their websites available to the public.
- Talk to women in your community about the importance of cervical cancer screenings and HPV.
- Partner with your church or other local organization and host a screening of Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic.
.January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, so try reaching out to the women in your life and encouraging them to get regular Pap tests and see a health care provider is she notices anything out of the ordinary. If she is not sure where to go and qualifies for no-cost cervical cancer screenings, we have providers across the state. Go to www.lbchp.org/screening-locations to find a convenient location or call 1-888-599-1073 for assistance.
- Courtney Wheeler, HPV Coordinator