January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

By: Ashmar Mandou

Each year, approximately 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that half of the cervical cancers occurred among women who are rarely or never screened for cervical cancer. In honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is encouraging women ages 21 and older to speak with their physician or health care provider about cervical cancer screening and prevention this month.

“We recommend women have their first routine cervical screening at age 21,” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “I also encourage women, along with young girls (ages 11 to 13) and their parents, to ask their health care provider about HPV vaccines, which are highly effective at preventing certain forms of HPV.” Cervical cancer forms in the tissues of the cervix (the lower, narrow end of the uterus or womb that connects the vagina or birth canal to the upper part of the uterus). Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Fortunately, with regular screenings and follow-up, this form of cancer is easily preventable and highly treatable when detected in its early stage. Unfortunately, there are often no visible symptoms of cervical cancer in its early state, which is why it is supremely important for women to be screened regularly.

The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) provides free cervical cancer screenings to uninsured and under insured Illinois women between the ages of 35 and 64, regardless of income. For more information, call the health line at 888-522-1282.

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