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Cervical Health Awareness Month an opportunity to learn about importance of screening & vaccines for cancer prevention


Thu, Jan 18th 2024 09:35 am

Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health

The idea of a vaccine that can prevent cancer sounds like science fiction, but a cancer vaccine is an established scientific fact when talking about cervical cancer.

During National Cervical Health Awareness Month in January, the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is sharing information about vaccination and screening as tools to reduce the risks of cervical cancer.

There is good news from the American Cancer Society (ACS) about cervical cancer. In the past 30 years, the largest decrease in cancer rates occurred for cervical cancer. The human papilloma virus (HPV) causes nearly all cervical cancer and several other cancers. The decrease in cervical cancer cases is largely attributed to the availability of the HPV vaccine. The vaccine became available in 2006 and cervical cancer rates have decreased rapidly since. ACS, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention routinely recommend HPV vaccination for both females and males between the ages of 9 and 12. It is also recommended for everyone through age 26, if they are not yet vaccinated. Individuals over the age of 26 should talk to their doctor about HPV vaccination.

Cervical cancer screening with a Pap test or a combination of a Pap test and high-risk human papilloma virus (hrHPV) test are routine procedures done in a standard ob/gyn or primary care office visit. Routine screening can detect pre-cancerous changes or early cancer in the cervix that are easier to treat. Pap tests are recommended for most women through age 65 as a routine part of health care. When diagnosed in its early stages, cervical cancer is highly treatable, and screening is the first step to a diagnosis.

ECDOH is reminding uninsured and uninsured residents about the Erie County Cancer Services Program, which pays for cervical cancer screenings (Pap smears) and hrHPV tests for eligible women ages 40 and over.

“For more than 25 years, our Cancer Services Program has focused on connecting people with cancer screenings,” Program Manager Michelle Wysocki said. “Early detection of breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer – before there are visible or painful symptoms – gives patients better chances of recovery and survival.”

Erie County residents with little or no health insurance can call 716-858-7376 for more information, or visit www.erie.gov/cancerservices.

Erie County residents under age 40 may access cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccine directly through the Erie County Family Planning Center at 608 William St., Buffalo. Appointments are encouraged and walk-ins welcomed. The Family Planning Center accepts most insurances, and people who are uninsured or underinsured will be screened for a New York state program eligibility to help pay for services. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 716-858-2779.

For more:

√ Erie County Department of Health, Cancer Services Program: 716-858-7376 or cspwny.org

√ New York State Department of Health, cervical cancer: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/cervical

√ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cervical cancer: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/index.htm

√ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV vaccine: https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine-for-hpv.html

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