Did you know that over half of all cervical cancer cases occur in women who have rarely or never been screened for the disease? In fact, 4,000 U.S. women die annually of cervical cancer. Screening can prevent cervical cancer or find it early when it’s easier to treat. One death let alone 4,000 is too many.
What every woman should be doing to prevent cervical cancer:
Regular screening! A Pap test looks for abnormal cells on the cervix that when left untreated can develop into cervical cancer. You should begin screening for cervical cancer at age 21 and continue to do so every three years until you reach age 65. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus passed from one person to another through sexual contact and is the main cause of cervical cancer. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will actually develop cervical cancer. The screening interval can be extended to every five years if you are between the ages of 30 and 65 by choosing to be screened with both a Pap test and a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test. Cervical cancer screening can end at age 65 if you have had normal Pap test results for the past several years or are not otherwise at high risk for contracting HPV.
What about those without health insurance?
From ages 9 to 64 your community has you covered for cervical cancer prevention and treatment, even if you are without health insurance. There are three programs available to help screen for and prevent cervical cancer.
- The Cancer Services Program provides free Pap tests for women ages 40 to 64 who do not have health insurance. This program also offers free breast and colorectal cancer screening. Call 435-3653 to learn more.
- Family Planning Services provides confidential reproductive health care to women and men in need. Lack of health insurance is not a barrier to care and a sliding fee scale is available. To learn more about available services including Pap tests for women call 435-3295.
- The Immunization Clinic provides HPV vaccines to young women and men ages 9 to 18 without health insurance, with target vaccination ages of 11 to 12 years. To find out more about HPV vaccine for those without health insurance call 435-2000.