By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
The American Society estimates that, in the U.S. , more than 11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year and over 4,000 women will die of the disease. It is the second leading cancer in women worldwide. Considering that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, those numbers are unacceptable.
Cervical cancer is almost always caused by persistent genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Early cervical cancer generally shows no signs or symptoms; this is why regular screening is so important. African-American and Latina women are twice as likely as white women to be diagnosed with cervical cancer; they also have twice the mortality rate.
Screening, with both a Pap test and an HPV test, offers women aged 30 and older the best protection against cervical cancer. HPV vaccines have also proven to be highly effective at preventing infection with the two most common types of HPV that cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancers. The vaccine does not protect against all the HPV types that can cause cervical cancer, so it is still critical to be screened regularly.
It is critical that women – especially young womenknow that getting vaccinated, having regular Pap tests and receiving treatment early give them a very strong chance of surviving cervical cancer. So, to all the young out there: TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR and GET VACCINATED or SCHEDULE A PAP TEST. Contact your local clinic to see when you, your mother, your sister and your friends can get vaccinated or schedule a Pap test.
The responsibility for really making progress in the fight against cervical cancer lies with each and every women. Educate yourself so that you will know how to spot it and the best method of preventing it. Most importantly, share what you know with your friends, family and neighbors so they can protect themselves too. That’s what Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is all about.