Florida Department Of Health In Seminole County Recognizes Cervical Health Awareness Month
SANFORD — The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County (DOH-Seminole) recognizes January as Cervical Health Awareness Month, a time to educate, encourage and empower women to visit their health care provider for information and screening for cervical cancer.
“Regular checkups are very important for all women since most cervical cancers are preventable and treatable if detected early. Vaccinating against the Human Papilloma Virus can help prevent some cervical cancers at an early age,” said Donna Walsh, acting health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. In Florida, there were 914 new cases and 345 deaths from cervical cancer in 2013 (Florida Cancer Data System). Most cervical cancer cases occur in women who have never been screened with a Pap test or have not been screened in the past five years.
Since the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was introduced in 2006, CDC reports there has been a 64 percent reduction in vaccine-type HPV infections among teen girls in the United States. Studies have shown that fewer teens are getting genital warts and cervical pre-cancers are decreasing. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. HPV is a common skin virus that is passed from one person to another during sexual activity. The HPV vaccination series can help prevent multiple cancers, including cervical cancer and cancer of the head, mouth, neck and throat.
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices recommends vaccinating boys and girls ages 11 to 12 years old for HPV. The HPV vaccine may be given starting at 9 years of age and through the age of 26 for those who did not get any or all of the shots when they were younger. The HPV vaccine is available at DOH-Seminole for children up to age 18 and adults through age 26 by appointment.
Talk to your medical provider about when a Pap test is most appropriate for you. Tests for specific HPV strains can support earlier diagnosis of cervical cancer. When found early, it is highly treatable.
According to CDC, follow these tips to reduce your risk or prevent cervical cancer:
Get the HPV vaccine;
See your doctor regularly for a Pap test if you are a woman between the ages of 21 and 65;
Do not smoke; and
Limit your number of sexual partners.
The DOH Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is available statewide. This program provides Pap tests and mammograms to women ages 50-64 who are uninsured and at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For more information about the program, please contact DOH-Seminole at (407) 665-3000 or visit www.seminolecohealth.com