January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month – an important time to share information on the disease that affects more than 14,000 women each year, according to the American Cancer Society. But unlike most forms of cancer, cervical cancer is highly preventable and treatable when the right steps are taken early on.
Since cervical cancer often stems from an HPV infection, the HPV vaccine is a great starting point. It is recommended for children 11 to 12 years old, but it can be given starting at age nine. Those who did not receive the vaccine as a child can still qualify to receive it until they are 26 years old.
In addition to the HPV vaccine, regular cervical cancer screenings, called Pap tests, are another way to catch this cancer early on. Cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer-related death for women in the US until the Pap test became a regular screening tool. Since then, the death rate has dropped significantly. For low-income households or anyone that doesn’t have health insurance, the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program can help provide accessible screening. You can see if you qualify here.
And of course, while there has been an increase in resources for preventing cervical cancer, there is always more that can be done to treat it. Taking part in clinical trials for cervical cancer treatment is another way to contribute to the prevention and treatment of this disease. Need help finding the right trial for you? Praxis can help.
Don’t forget to share this information with your friends and family this month, and all year long – it could potentially save lives.