January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the Haywood County Health Department is using the opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of screening and prevention.
Each year more than 11,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and over 4,000 of those women die from the condition. Almost all cervical cancer deaths could be prevented by a combination of routine Pap tests and appropriate follow-up of abnormal screening results.
The Haywood County Health Department provides the NC Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) for Haywood County women who qualify for this program. Because of BCCCP, ninety-five abnormal pap smears were found and follow-up procedures occurred for those women to avoid potentially life-threatening situations. In 2011, one invasive cervical cancer was diagnosed through Haywood County’s BCCCP.
“To start the year right, we encourage women to contact their health care provider to schedule a Pap test to check for cervical cancer,” said Julia Plemmons, Health Department Nursing Director. “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.”
Risk factors for cervical cancer include:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection and the single most important risk for cervical cancer.
- 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.
The Haywood County Health Department offers free cervical cancer screenings, education and referral services to eligible women through the NC BCCCP. You may call Haywood County Health Department at 828.452.6675 to see if you are eligible to participate in this program.
“If you are a woman that is sexually active or over age 21, talk to your health care provider about scheduling a cervical cancer screening today,” Plemmons said. “Early detection is your best protection!”
To learn more about the NC BCCCP, visit www.bcccp.ncdhhs.gov or call 919.707.5300.