To Pap or Not to Pap
January is an exciting month dedicated to bringing awareness to Cervical Cancer. A topic
so important since this particular disease is one capable of preventing. However, it continues to claim the lives of so many women who fail to catch it early enough. In Louisiana from 2009 to 2013, the incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer were much higher than the rest of the country. So let’s ask the question, how do we change this epidemic? Well it’s simple really. We have to educate and continue to spread the word about prevention and the importance of screening to young women. According to Healthy People 2020, those who rarely or never get screened are more likely to be diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, and at a later stage compared to those women who do get screened more often. Often these young women are under the age of 30, have lower income, have low education status, and are uninsured or lacking health care sources. These are the women who ask themselves when they should “Pap” or if they should “Pap” at all.
The answer is YES!
Solid studies have shown us three effective ways of screening and preventing cervical
cancer. We know that these tests can and will save lives. They include testing for HPV, getting Pap smears regularly, and considering HPV vaccinations for teens and young adults. Why HPV testing? Human papillomavirus infections are the main causes behind
developing cervical cancer. This is why testing for this STD is essential when screening for
cervical cancer. The vaccination for HPV comes highly recommended for young boys and girls as young as 9 years old. Yes, this can be an uncomfortable thought for a parent since it is a sexually transmitted however, it can save their child’s life and possibly others in their adult years. This is prevention at its finest. It’s important that parents remember, the earlier we take measures the better it is for everyone in the long run. The Pap smear is the third and primary option for screening that involves taking cells from the cervix and testing them for any cancerous cells. Once a young women turns 21 she should talk with her doctor about getting one, and repeating it every 3 to 5 years. These simple screenings help reduce incidence and mortality rates significantly. In 2013, the U.S. reported almost 12,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,217 of that group unfortunately died from the disease. In Louisiana, 3 out of 100,000 die each year from the disease. The national average is 2.3 deaths per 100,000. The scary realization about these statistics is that they continue to trend upwards according to data from the Title X Funded Health Centers. Fewer women are getting screened and therefore, more women are dying. Screening for Cervical cancer is considered a preventive service, which is generally covered by most insurances at NO COST!
The opportunity is there to make a difference and we must encourage all women to take
full advantage and live their best lives!
Get Checked. Get Fit. Get MOVING!™
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Wentzensen, Nicolas. "[Epidemiology, Prevention and Early Detection of Cervical Cancer]."
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