From the Harford County Health Department:
January is the national observance of Cervical Health Awareness Month. The Harford County Health Department wishes to remind the public that, although cervical cancer is one of the most preventable of all the cancers that affect women, an estimated 70 women in Maryland will die from cervical cancer this year.
Cervical cancer is the cancer that affects the cervix, found at the lowest part of a woman’s uterus. Cancer of the cervix usually forms slowly, as abnormal cells begin to change into a pre-cancerous state. If undetected and untreated, these abnormal cells can develop into cancer. 99% of cervical cancer cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses that can cause changes in the cells of the cervix. Vaccines have been shown to prevent the types of HPV infection that lead to cervical cancer. Currently, there are two HPV vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States for females 10 to 25 years of age.
A Pap test is a simple and very effective procedure used to prevent cervical cancer, in which a small sample of cells is taken from a woman’s cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormal cells. If pre-cancerous cells are found with a Pap test, they can be treated and cervical cancer can be prevented. Cervical cancer screenings can be quick and easy and women are reminded that screening is recommended for all females who are, or who have been sexually active, and for all women who are 21 years of age and older.
“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,” states Elaine Krajewski, R.N., Harford County Health Department Cancer Prevention Services Supervisor. “Join the Harford County Health Department this month in telling mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and friends that, ‘You Can Prevent Cervical Cancer.’ ”
For those having difficulty affording medical care, the Harford County Breast and Cervical Cancer Program offers no-cost mammograms and pap test screenings for eligible women who qualify. Qualifications include being a Maryland resident between the ages of 40 and 64, having limited income, and little or no health insurance.
For more information about cervical cancer or cervical cancer screening, call the Office of Cancer Prevention Services at 410-612-1780 or visit the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com.