Get screened, urge others to do so

Sampson County Health Department staff and members of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) deserve a huge round of applause for their continued efforts to educate women on health needs that can save their lives.

Starting in January, BCCCP will begin its annual Teal Ribbon Campaign in an effort to remind women across Sampson of the great need for cervical screenings. That campaign, combined with the Health Department’s programs, are aimed at preventing what has become a growing problem in our county — cervical cancer.

It was reported earlier this week in our paper that from a per capita standpoint Sampson County remains at the top of North Carolina’s list for annual incidences of cervical cancer. It is a position we would prefer not to be in. Health officials here couldn’t agree more and are stepping up efforts to help us reduce that number and remove us from that the top of that precarious ranking.

As it stands now, statistics show Sampson reports between 10 and 17 cases of cervical cancer each year. The numbers are likely higher than what is reported, too, since those figures come from public health assessments and not from every physician or hospital.

That, too, is alarming, particularly when there are preventive steps that can be taken to catch the cancer and treat it before it becomes deadly.

But it takes education and a willingness on the part of women to take the necessary steps to be screened.

Enter the Health Department and BCCP. Initiatives they have put in motion can help ensure that first women are educated to the deadly impact cervical cancer can have if not caught in time and second that they have an opportunity to get the screenings needed for that early detection. If cost is a factor, as it often is for many women, there are opportunities available at the Health Department to get them for nominal charges based on a person’s income. What’s more, BCCCP often offers programs that provides those screenings at no cost.

Further, the Health Department offers myriad programs for women 21 and older, including pap screenings and the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, two all important ways of helping ensure cervical cancer is detected early and treated.

“Most deaths from cervical cancer could be avoided if women had regular checkups,” noted Luke Smith, health educator for the Health Department in our article Tuesday.

No truer words have been spoken.

Too often we all put off what needs to be done today. When it comes to health screenings, putting it off is the very worst thing one can do. With the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics anticipating 399 females in North Carolina being diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018, and 126 of them dying from the disease, nothing could be more important than getting those checkups now.

We, like health officials, don’t want another person in Sampson becoming a statistic. Get the screenings and, what’s more, educate others to the importance of doing so. When you talk about the perfect gift, saving your own life and the lives of others should be at the top of any list.