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By Kent Donahue

January 04, 2019

Cervical Cancer Month

During Cervical Health Awareness Month, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) encourages women to visit their health care provider in January to be screened for cervical cancer, and learn more about preventing cervical cancer through lifestyle change and vaccination.

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition states that roughly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sexual activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to reduce risk or prevent cervical cancer women should:

  • Get the HPV vaccine between ages 9 and 26;
  • See their health care provider regularly for a Pap test between ages 21 and 65;
  • Not smoke; and
  • Limit the number of sexual partners.

Completing the three dose HPV vaccination series can help prevent multiple cancers, including cervical cancer and cancer of the mouth and throat. DOH-Orange’s Immunization Section provides vaccinations for HPV through several programs.

Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.

Talk to your health care provider about when a Pap test is most appropriate for you. Tests for specific HPV strains can support earlier diagnosis of cervical cancer. Women ages 50-64, who are uninsured and are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level can receive Pap tests through DOH-Orange’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program at 407-858-1421. Learn more about the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

Learn more about the HPV Vaccine at

Learn more at the department’s Immunization Section or contact your county health department.