Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer, most often in women over the age of 30. This cancer forms in tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests. Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.
The good news?
- The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
- Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.
In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, it is recommended that:
- Women start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
- Parents make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.
There are many resources to find more information about cervical cancer, screening, prevention, and treatment. We recommend:
- Inside Knowledge about Cervical Cancer
- National Cervical Cancer Coalition
- National Cancer Institute
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- MacMillan Cancer Support (Great Britain): Cervical Cancer
- Foundation for Women’s Cancers
Cervical cancer screenings
Free cervical screenings (pap/pelvic exams) are available for many women through the Cancer Services Program of Cortland and Tompkins Counties.
For more information, call the Cortland County Health Department at 607-758-5523.
If you are a woman that has been diagnosed with cervical cancer and would benefit from additional support, consider attending our Women’s Support Group.
Women with all types of cancers are welcome and have found emotional support, established new friendships, and felt compassion by talking and sharing
with others going through similar experiences.