TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Florida Health in Leon County is encouraging women to observe January as Cervical Health Awareness Month by getting screened for the disease.
Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent with routine screenings and follow-up, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of 2015, cervical cancer, or cancer starting in the cervix, is the 15th leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Florida.
Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus passed from one person to another during sexual activity.
To reduce risk or prevent cervical cancer, the CDC recommends women:
- Get the HPV vaccine between ages 9 and 26;
- See their health care provider regularly for a Pap test between ages 21 and 65;
- Not smoke; and
- Limit the number of sexual partners.
Completing the HPV vaccination series can help prevent multiple cancers, including cervical cancer and cancer of the mouth and throat. The department’s Immunization Section provides vaccinations for HPV through several programs.
Two screenings can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, 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.
Women ages 50-64 who are uninsured and are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level can receive Pap tests through the department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP).
To learn more about the BCCEDP or to see if you qualify, call (850) 606-8110 or visit: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/cancer/breast-cancer/bccedp.html.
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