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Cervical Cancer: Preventable and Cureable

Cervical Awareness Month

Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but this is one type of cancer that has two things working against it: a vaccine and early screening tests.

Here are some general age guidelines you should know:

  • Starting around age 11, girls should start receiving a series of vaccines that fight HPV or human papillomavirus
  • From age 21 to 30, young women should receive Pap Tests every three years that detect cell changes in the cervix
  • From 30 to 65, Pap Tests are recommended every three to five years
  • And over 65, Pap Tests are no longer needed

Commonwealth Health’s Dr. Michael Tedesco stresses the importance of getting the HPV vaccine before the start of sexual activity:

Dr. Michael Tedesco/Commonwealth Health Obstetrician, says, “there’s only one cause and the cause we know is HPV, if someone is never exposed to the virus and is not sexually active or if they’re monogamous and never exposed, they’re not getting cervical cancer, it’s extremely rare without that exposure.”

So armed with the HPV vaccine and the early screening tests, fewer people are getting cervical cancer; that’s the good news on the “prevention front”---but even if cervical cancer is detected, doctors say early screening is the best defense.

Some women may qualify for free or low-cost Pap test screening: to find out if you’re eligible, go to healthywoman.health.pa.gov or call: (800) 215-7494.

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