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Cervical Health Awareness Month

January 07, 2016

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) recognizes January as Cervical Health Awareness Month, a time to educate, encourage and, empower women to visit their health care provider for information and screening for cervical cancer. 

“Most cervical cancer can be prevented.  It is important for all women to have regular checkups with their doctor to prevent and/or find and treat pre-cancers before they become cancer,” said Dr. Kevin M. Sherin, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County. “If detected early, it is one of the most successfully treatable cancers.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8 million women who should be getting screening tests for cervical cancer aren’t getting them. More than 12,000 women get cervical cancer every year and according to the CDC report, more than half of them occur among women who have never – or rarely – been screened. Cervical cancer is a profound health equity issue: in both the U.S. and abroad, the disease is linked strongly with poverty and lack of access to medical care. Screening tests and vaccines can help prevent or diminish the impact of the disease.

Cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. One way of preventing cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV. A woman should be vaccinated before she has any type of sexual contact with another person. The American Cancer Society recommends that the HPV vaccine be given to girls at age 11 to 12.

Even with vaccination, though, screening tests are still important for preventing cervical cancer or finding it early. Screenings are tests for people who have no symptoms of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends regular cervical cancer screening for women age 21 and older.

It is also important to not smoke, practice safe sex, and limit the number of sexual partners in order to help lower your risk for cervical cancer.