for cervical cancer
Approximately 11,000 American women will learn they have cervical cancer this year, and nearly 4,000 will die from an advanced form of the disease. This January, during Cervical Health Awareness Month, the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) and St. Mary’s Hospital& Clinics are focused on educating women about the importance of the Pap test as a screening tool for cervical cancer/HPV and about vaccines that can further reduce the burden of this devastating disease.
It’s the start of a new year– a time many reflect on their health. To start the year right, contact SMHC to schedule a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. This screening is a crucial part of a woman’s health care regimen, yet one that many overlook.“It is important for every woman to remember that cervical cancer is a preventable disease if caught early enough, and routine screening pap smears have become more accurate in this process,” says Dr. Haley Minnehan. “It is recommended that women begin getting screenings at age 21. After three normal pap smears, screenings should be every two years from age 20-30, and every three years after age 30, unless there are other risk factors to consider.”
While routine administration of Pap tests is the best means of detecting cervical cancer at an early stage, vaccines have the potential to protect women from the disease, by targeting cancer-causing types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV, a virus transmitted through sexual contact, is the single known cause of cervical cancer. Two forms of the virus, HPV 16 and HPV 18, account for more than 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases. Some medical experts believe that through a successful education, screening and vaccination program for women, we will have the potential to nearly eliminate cervical cancer in the U.S.
“These vaccines represent a major advancement in women’s health and in cancer prevention and are available at SMHC,” says Shari Kuther RN, Clinic Manager. "We hope these vaccines will make cervical cancer a concern of the past. The best candidates for the vaccine are women and children; it can be given as early as age 9.”
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), founded in 1996, is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving women with, or at risk for, cervical cancer and HPV. The NCCC is the only organization dedicated exclusively to helping women address concerns about cervical health and disease. The group executes its mission to improve women's cervical health outcomes through education, support and advocacy for women and health care providers. SMHC has adapted several tools available through NCCC to benefit patients in this area. If you haven’t done so already this year, schedule your annual wellness exam with a pap smear (if indicated by your physician) and stop by or call SMHC in Cottonwood at 962-3267,Kamiah Medical Clinic at 935-2585, Nezperce Medical Clinic at 937-2496, Craigmont Medical Clinic at 924-5504 or Grangeville Medical Clinic at 983-6027 for more information regarding cervical health.