Honoring Cervical Health Awareness Month 2018

Honoring Cervical Health Awareness Month 2018

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Support Your Health and Schedule Your Screening

Did you know that in addition to the start of a new year, January is Cervical Health Awareness Month? This special month is a time to increase awareness about cervical health and encourage women to keep up with regular cervical screenings. Although up to 93% of cervical cancers are preventable, each year more than 12,000 women in the U.S. are still diagnosed.1 This means more than 1 woman per hour receives the news that she has cervical cancer.1 When you get screened, you’re taking charge of your health and making a great step towards preventing cervical cancer.

What Tests Do You Need?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations state:

  • If you are between the ages of 21-29, your provider will recommend screening with a Pap test only every 3 years.2
  • If you are between the ages of 30-65, your provider will recommend screening with Pap+HPV Together™ every 5 years. These tests can be performed at the same time during one visit.2

Your healthcare provider or gynecologist can perform a Pap test or an HPV test during your annual well-woman visit or, in many cases, during your yearly physical. Make sure you tell your healthcare provider about your medical history and any past issues with your cervix, vagina or other reproductive organs.
If your Pap test shows that you have abnormal cells on your cervix or your HPV test shows that you have high-risk HPV, your provider will likely call you back in for further evaluation.

Common Myths about HPV and Cervical Health

Since Cervical Health Awareness Month is a time to talk about cervical health and screening, it’s a great time to discuss and resolve common myths about HPV and cervical cancer.

Myth 1: A Pap test alone is sufficient for cervical cancer screening for all women.

  • Truth: Guidelines recommend screening with Pap+HPV Together for women ages 30-65 for nearly 100% cervical disease detection.2

Myth 2: If you have no symptoms, you shouldn’t worry about HPV or cervical cancer.

  • Truth: Most people with HPV – the leading cause of cervical cancer – have no symptoms at all.3 Even women who have developed early cervical cancers or pre-cancers usually have no symptoms.4

Myth 3: HPV always leads to cervical cancer.

  • Truth: Most of the time, HPV infections have no symptoms, go away on their own and do not cause cancer.3

Myth 4: If you have HPV, your current partner gave it to you.

  • Truth: Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even from just a single sexual encounter. You can develop an HPV infection (and cervical disease and cervical cancer) years after you had sex with someone and were infected.5

Myth 5: If your Pap test was negative recently, you do not have to worry about testing.

  • Truth: A normal Pap test means changes to your cervical cells were not detected under microscopic examination of a sample. This is good news, but you will still need to continue having Pap and HPV tests according to guidelines in the future. New cell changes can still occur on your cervix even years after a normal result.3

We hope that for Cervical Health Awareness Month, you will talk with your friends about getting screened and schedule an appointment for your own screening if you’re due.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cervical Cancer is Preventable. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/cervical-cancer/index.html. Page updated November 5, 2014. Accessed December 5, 2017. 2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Cervical Cancer Screening. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Cervical-Cancer-Screening. Published September 2017. Accessed December 5, 2017. 3. CDC. Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm. Updated November 16, 2017. Accessed December 6, 2017. 4. American Cancer Society. Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html. Updated December 5, 2016. Accessed December 6, 2017. 5. National Cancer Institute. HPV and Cancer. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-fact-sheet. Reviewed February 19, 2015.