Start Young with Cancer Prevention
Cancer is a disease that touches so many of our lives. The American Cancer Society estimates in 2014 alone there was an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the United States. It remains the second most common cause of death in the US, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.
One of the most preventable forms of cancer for women is being talked about this month by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH): cervical cancer. In fact, January is known in health circles as National Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Cervical cancer is a disease that starts in the cervix, the lower, narrow end of the uterus. It is almost always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex.
The good news is more and more parents are vaccinating their children against HPV. NMDOH reports the number of boys and girls both getting vaccinated for HPV is above the national average.
The most important thing a woman can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 21.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for pre-cancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
The Pap test is recommended for women between ages 21 and 65, and can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. Not every woman, however, is getting her regularly scheduled Pap test.
The CDC reports 70 percent of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV – and 93 percent of all cervical cancers can be prevented with regular screening.
The NMDOH recommends boys and girls receive the vaccination at age 11 or 12. The vaccine is given in a series of three shots over six months. The HPV vaccine is also recommended for adult women up to age 26 and men up to age 21. It’s available from public health offices and local physicians and pharmacies statewide.
The Affordable Care Act is reducing financial barriers to screening by increasing access to insurance coverage for clinical preventive services. Cervical cancer screening is also now provided with no cost-sharing for women covered by most private insurance plans and for newly eligible beneficiaries of Medicaid expansion as well as by Medicare.
In addition, the New Mexico Department of Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer (BCC) Program can cover the costs of diagnostic testing required from abnormal screening results for women who are underinsured and for whom follow-up diagnostic testing costs might be a barrier to accessing the care they need.
Women may call the BCC Program’s bilingual, toll-free information line at 1-877-852-2585 to find out if they’re eligible, and to find the nearest BCC medical providers in their city or area.
We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.
Versión en Español
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