January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a reminder for women of all ages to actively manage their gynecological health through regular screenings for cervical cancer and precancerous conditions, starting at age 21. Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus.
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition states that more than 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year, but the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are two tests to prevent cervical cancer or to help find it early. Both can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic.
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) screens for cell changes on the cervix that could become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) test detects the virus that can cause cell changes. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and approximately 14 million people become newly infected each year.
Your health care provider will advise you of frequency of screenings, depending on your age, health, and past history.
Wheeler’s Family Health & Wellness Centers in Bristol, New Britain, Hartford, and Waterbury offer an array of women’s health care services, including gynecological exams and screenings, and referral and linkage to care as needed. To schedule an appointment, or to learn more, call Wheeler’s Navigation Center at 860.793.3500.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic
Additional Resources:American Cancer SocietyCenters for Disease Control and PreventionHealthFinder.govNational Cervical Cancer CoalitionUnited Way 211 Connecticut
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