As a part of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, Acting Secretary of Health Everette James today reminded women of the importance of cervical cancer prevention and the need for Pap tests.
“Every January as we begin a new year, we want to remind all Pennsylvanians to do what they can to improve their overall health,” said James. “This month, as we observe National Cervical Cancer Month, I want to remind our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends that yearly examinations are the best way to prevent cervical cancer.
“Every year in this state, more than 500 women are diagnosed with this disease. Thousands more do not know their status and go untreated. When found and treated early, this disease is curable.”
One of the main causes of cervical cancer is the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least half of sexually active women will have HPV at some point in their lives, but this does not mean that they will get cervical cancer. Talk with your doctor, nurse or other health care professional about whether the HPV test is right for you.
Cervical cancer occurs most often in women over age 30. Six out of 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years. In 2006, there were 196 cervical cancer deaths among Pennsylvania women.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program provides free breast and cervical cancer screening services, including free mammograms and Pap tests, for women between the ages of 40 and 64, who are uninsured or underinsured, and of low to moderate income.