- Cervical cancer awareness month is observed in January each year to raise awareness on prevention and early detection of cervical cancer through regular Pap screening and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in women
- Cervical cancer is a type of gynecologic cancer affecting the cervix which is the portion of the female reproductive tract between the uterus above and the vagina below
- Cervical cancer is quite common and it is estimated that over 500000 women worldwide will be diagnosed with it this year
Cervical cancer awareness month is observed every year in January to create awareness on prevention and early detection of cervical cancer through regular Pap screening and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in women.
Every year nearly 13,000 women across the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about a third of them die. The good news is that cervical cancer is easily preventable
due to the availability of Pap smear screening and HPV vaccination.
Importance of Cervical Cancer Awareness
The American Social Health Association (ASHA) and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) have designated January as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month to encourage women to have regular Pap smears
to check for cervical cancer as well as have the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine if they are eligible.
‘Having the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in girls between 11 to 18 years of age and Pap smear screening test for all women above 21 years of age will go a long way in preventing and early detection of cervical cancer.’
Despite the available tools to prevent and treat cervical cancer, due to the lack of awareness or insufficient health care facilities, it is diagnosed in many women only in the later stages when it is difficult to treat
"Science has put us in a remarkable position to protect women from cervical cancer, but technology is only half the battle,"
said ASHA president and CEO Lynn Barclay. "It's imperative we continue efforts that not only promote greater access to health care but that we also inform women about cervical cancer and the marvelous means we now have to prevent this disease."
What We Can Do to Raise Cervical Cancer Awareness
- Post and share awareness messages about cervical cancer and its prevention widely on social media such as Facebook and Twitter using the teal and white ribbon in the profile picture or background, which represents cervical cancer
- Organize a cervical cancer awareness event in your community and involve others to help in the campaign by printing or downloading material to distribute to the general public in prominent locations such as parks or malls
- Post messages about cervical cancer awareness and prevention on notice boards, and intranets. Dress in teal and white color to show solidarity to cervical cancer awareness
- Doctors and clinics can offer well-woman checkups during this month free of cost to encourage more women to undergo Pap screening test
- Print and visual media must be encouraged to carry prominent messages about cervical cancer Pap test and HPV vaccination in preventing cervical cancer
- Radio and television media can host educational talks and discussions with experts on cervical cancer prevention
- Educational institutions and workplaces can organize webinars or seminars to educate about young women about cervical cancer and its prevention
- Hold an awareness event in your community by organizing a walk, marathon or sports event to raise awareness about cervical cancer and its prevention
- Raise funds to support cervical cancer research either by making a personal contribution to support the cause or by collecting funds
- Local administration must be urged to offer Pap screen test and HPV vaccination to all women freely at affordable rates
Pap Test and HPV Test to Prevent Cervical Cancer
- In the Pap test, the doctor scrapes cells of the cervix and spreads them on a glass slide and visualizes them under the microscope to look for any abnormality suggestive of cancer. If early changes are detected appropriate treatment is given early and the cancer is curable
- HPV testing is done to detect the presence of HPV infection but it is not useful to diagnose cancer. If you have a certain subtype of HPV infection may increase the risk of cancer requiring close monitoring and treatment to prevent cervical cancer development
Who Should Have Pap Test?
- Women between the ages of 21 to 30 years must have Pap test every three years; women less than 21 years are not required to have the test even if they are sexually active
- From 30 to 65 years, the latest guidelines advise Pap test five yearly provided HPV test is also performed concurrently
Preventing HPV Infection
Preventing HPV infection can also help to prevent or reduce cervical cancer risk
. This includes -
- HPV vaccination for all girls between 11 and 26 years
- Avoiding multiple sexual partners
- Using barrier contraception such as condom or spermicide gel
Cervical Cancer in Brief
Symptoms of cervical include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, painful sex, unexplained weight loss and tiredness
. Risk of cervical cancer is increased by smoking and having multiple sexual partners. Treatment includes surgery, radiotherapy
, chemotherapy and immunotherapy depending on the stage and severity of the disease.
Cervical cancer is easily preventable by regular screening
and Pap smear testing. It can save your life. References :
- January is Cervical Health Awareness Month! - (http://news.unchealthcare.org/pcic/january-2017-pcic-newsletter/top-stories/january-is-cervical-health-awareness-month)
- Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2019 - (https://www.jostrust.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/cervical-cancer-prevention-week)
- About Cervical Health Awareness Month - (http://www.nccc-online.org/hpvcervical-cancer/cervical-health-awareness-month/)