From the Harford County Health Department:
January is the national observance of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The Harford County Health Department wishes to remind the community that although cervical cancer is one of the most preventable of cancers that affect women, an estimated seventy women in Maryland will die from cervical cancer this year.
Cervical cancer, which affects the cervix, is found at the lowest part of a woman’s uterus. “This cancer usually forms slowly as abnormal cells begin to transform into a pre-cancerous state. If undetected and untreated the abnormal cells can develop into cancer. Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses that can cause cervical cell changes, causes approximately 99% of cervical cancer cases. Vaccines have been shown to prevent the types of HPV that lead to cervical cancer,” states Elaine Krajewski, R.N., Harford County Health Department Cancer Prevention Services Supervisor. Currently, there are two HPV vaccines approved for use in the United States for females ages 10 to 25.
A Pap test is a simple and effective procedure that can detect abnormal cells by taking a sample of cells from the cervix and examining it for abnormalities. Pap tests can detect pre-cancerous cells that, with treatment, can be eliminated, thereby preventing cervical cancer. Cervical cancer screenings can be quick and easy and women are recommended to be screened if they are sexually active and/or over the age of 21.
“With regular Pap Test screenings for women and the HPV vaccine, we can save lives in Maryland. Men and women, alike, should use the month of January to pass the word along to those you love,” continues Ms. Krajewski. “Join the Harford County Health Department this month in telling mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and friends that ‘You Can Prevent Cervical Cancer.’ ”
For those concerned about the cost of screening and medical care, the Harford County Breast and Cervical Cancer Program offers no-cost mammograms and pap test screenings for women who qualify. Qualifications include being a Harford County Resident between the ages of 40 and 64 with limited income, and little or no health insurance.
More information on cervical cancer and cervical cancer screening is available on the Harford County Health Department website, www.harfordcountyhealth.com, or by calling the Office of Cancer Prevention Services at 410-612-1780.