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Early Cervical Cancer Detection Saves Lives

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2009-01-08 11:08

State officials are marking Cervical Cancer Awareness Month today by encouraging women to receive a "Pap" screening test because early screening can help improve cervical cancer survival. A "Pap" exam can detect cervical abnormalities at an early, treatable stage before they develop into cancer. Also, women between the ages of 11 and 26 may want to discuss the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine with their health care provider since the vaccine helps prevent the disease which causes most cervical cancer.

"We encourage all women to talk with their health care providers about Pap testing since early detection may save their life," said Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake. "Encourage your grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, and women friends to get a regular Pap test. Cervical cancer is treatable and curable if found at an early stage."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cervical cancer was once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. During the past 40 years, however, the Pap test has helped reduce both the number of women developing cervical cancer and the number dying from it. Unfortunately, a Department of Health Services report, Wisconsin Cancer Incidence and Mortality, 2000-2004, shows that only 52 percent of all cervical cancers in Wisconsin were diagnosed at an early stage, which suggests that many women are not getting regular screening for this largely preventable and treatable disease.

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The Department's Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWWP) offers cervical cancer screening tests to eligible, uninsured, low-income women aged 45-64. This statewide network provides outreach to educate women about advances in cervical cancer prevention and the importance of regular cancer screening tests. Coordinating agencies located in each county link women to covered WWWP services within its network of healthcare providers. If a woman tested at a WWWP site is found to have cervical cancer, she may be eligible for the Well Woman Medicaid treatment component to pay for cancer treatment.

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