January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, during this period we encourage women to take some time to learn more about their body, focusing on Cervical Cancer, its risks and prevention. In the US alone, more than 13,240 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,170 women will die from cervical cancer each year, 93% of the cases are now preventable with an HPV vaccination and regular screenings.
But there is good news: cervical cancer is highly preventable thanks to screenings, and a vaccine to prevent HPV infections is available. When cervical cancer is found early on, it is highly treatable and associated with a good quality of life and long survival.
Two test screenings can prevent or find cervical cancer in the first stages. Both of these screenings can be done in a regular exam room.
Pap smear or Pap test: this test looks for precancerous cells on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if not treated on time and appropriately. Normally, results can take as long as three weeks. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you to wait three years until your next Pap smear.
HPV Test: this test looks for the virus that can cause these precancerous cells to change. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test. Normally, results can take as long as three weeks.
In honor of the National Cervical Health Awareness Month, MD Medical Group encourages:
Women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.
Thanks to the health care reform law, you and your family members may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.