Did you know Latinas have the highest incidence of cervical cancer in the U.S.? Scary, right? What’s scarier: cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable. Here’s what you need to know about cervical cancer, in honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Pap Smears Are Priority
Pap tests are one of the most effective ways to detect cervical cancer early. Every year, approximately 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 4,000 American women die of the disease. If detected early, the five-year survival rate for cervical cancer is almost 100 percent.
Don’t Expect Results Right Away
It can take up to three weeks to receive your Pap test results. If your test results are normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low.
Age Changes Everything
In 2012, recommendations were changed on how often women should be screened for cervical cancer. Pap screening should begin at age 21, and most women (depending on recommendations by health care provider) should be screened every three years until the age of 29. For women aged 30 to 64, screenings should be performed every three years using Pap testing or every five years using combined Pap and HPV testing.
Guidelines Have Changed, So Should Your Priorities
Screening for cervical cancer is essential during most of a woman’s adult life, even if you are not engaging in sexual activity or if your partner is a woman. Since the time periods have changed for screenings, make sure to take your appointment seriously. This is a time to take charge of your heatlh.
HPV Vaccines Start Early
Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends HPV vaccination for girls aged 11 to 12, it’s also good for women who are not yet sexually active and can be given to females up to the age of 26 and as early as nine. In order to be most effective, HPV vaccination needs to occur prior to the start of sexual intimacy. (So make sure to keep that in mind for your daughters!).
Check out the infographic below for more information on how to keep yourself cancer-free!