January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, dedicated to encouraging women to take action and protect themselves in the New Year. The start of a new year is the time that many reflect on their health. To start the year right, we encourage women to contact their health care provider to schedule a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. This screening is an important part of a woman’s health care routine, yet one that many overlook. It is important to remember that cervical cancer is a preventable disease.
Each year more than 12,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 of those women die. Almost all cervical cancer deaths are preventable simply by getting a Pap Test and ensuring you follow up if you do have an abnormal Pap result.
Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer:
• The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection.
• Women are at increased risk of developing cervical cancer if they engage in sexual intercourse at an early age or have multiple sexual partners.
• Women who smoke are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop cervical cancer.
• HIV or Chlamydia infection can contribute to the risk for cervical cancer.
If you are age 21 or older, you can call your provider or the Sampson County Health Department to schedule an appointment for a cervical cancer screening. Early detection is your best protection. Routine Pap Tests are recommended every three to five years, based on your age and other risk factors. Follow up for abnormal Pap Tests will depend on the specific results of the Test.
The Sampson County Health Department and the Sampson County Breast and Cervical Cancer (BCCCP) Advisory Board recognize each January as Cervical Health Awareness Month and as an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of screening and prevention of cervical cancer. The Health Department offers the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program and the BCCCP Advisory Board provides presentations to community groups regarding breast and cervical cancer awareness.
The Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program offers free cervical cancer screenings, education and referral services to eligible women. To learn more about NC BCCCP, visit www.bcccp.ncdhhs.gov or contact the Sampson County Health Department. If you are interested in a presentation for your church or community group, call Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131 ext. 4240. If you are age 21 or older and would like to schedule an appointment for a physical exam to include a Pap test, call Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131, ext. 4001 or 4220.