It’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Bringing awareness to this cancer holds a special significance for me, and perhaps you have been somehow affected by it also.
In New York State, Black women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and to die from the disease. Recent findings from a U.S. study showed that Black women are diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer at a higher rate than white women. Late-stage cancer is cancer that has spread to other places in the body. Cervical cancer is much harder to treat in its late stages, with less than 2 out of 100 women surviving the past five years.
This is especially alarming because cervical cancer can be prevented. Here is what everyone should know:
- Cervical cancer screening may save lives. Getting screened regularly can help find the cells that lead to cancer so they can be removed before the cancer grows. Screening also helps find cancer early when it may be easier to treat.
- Screening begins at age 21. Everyone with a cervix ages 21 to 65 should be screened every three years with a Pap test. For some, using an HPV test may lengthen the time between screenings.
- You can get screened even if you do not have health insurance. The Cancer Services Program (CSP) of the Central Region provides free screening to people ages 40 and older without health insurance who qualify. For people with insurance, most health insurers cover screening at no cost.
The good news is that, in a recent survey, nearly 70% of women 21 and older said they’d be more likely to schedule their screening after learning why it’s important to find cancer early. I hope this information motivates anyone with a cervix due for cervical cancer screening to call their health care provider or call CSP at 1-888-345-0225 to see if you qualify for a free cervical cancer screening. Tell a friend, and let’s work together to make this cancer disappear for good!
Happy New Year!