Cervical Cancer Awareness Month may help many all over the nation

About 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 5:10 PM EST
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - January is recognized as Cervical Health Awareness Month. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. But experts and survivors say— it’s preventable.

About 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. In the most recent year tracked, the CDC reports about 450 of those cases were here in Georgia.

South Health District says regular cervical screenings are very important. Any woman over the age of 21 needs to have a cervical screening, also known as a pap-smear.

“With early detection, along with the HPV vaccine, which is the human papillomavirus vaccine, we’ve been able to detect early cervical cancer,” Missy Pollock, Women’s Health Coordinator for South Health District, said. “And by getting the vaccine, this will also help prevent any cervical cancer.”

If you haven’t already received your HPV vaccines, they are provided through your local health department or private provider.

“Starting age 11 or 12, you can begin those vaccines up to age 26. The vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer and 90 percent of cervical cancers are caused by the HPV virus,” Pollock said.

The CDC has several cervical cancer survivor stories online. Here’s what one said, “I had the chance to prevent my cancer,” Kristina N.H., a cervical cancer survivor, said. “Please don’t miss your chance. Vaccinate yourself and your children.”

Georgia Public Health has a program in place to mitigate the risk of getting cervical cancer. If you are between the ages of 40 to 64 and uninsured or underinsured, this program is for you.

South Health Districts Breast and Cervical Cancer Program previously recommended having screenings once a year. Now they say once every 3 years unless you have an abnormal screening result.

“This program is throughout the entire state of Georgia,” Pollock said. “Every local health department has this program. This program can help women that would not normally have access to healthcare. If the woman does qualify for BCCP, all of her screenings will be free of charge.”

Study shows women who have several sexual partners, smoke, used birth control for five years or more, or have given birth to three or more children are at risk. But if caught early enough, cervical ccan be treated.

“I am living proof that screening can find cervical cancer at an early stage when treatment works best,” Tamika F., another survivor from the CDC’s website, said.

Georgia Department of Public Health says by participating in this program and getting the HPV vaccine, you can reduce your risk of cervical cancer by up to 40 percent.

“Well we screen 1200 women per year,” Pollock said. “Early detection is the key. So please come in. Get your mammograms, get your pap-smears. Don’t be afraid because early detection is the key,”