January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month

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The goal of National Cervical Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. It’s also a major cause of cervical cancer.

Every year, approximately 13,000 women are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer, and, of those, about one-third will die as a result. The good news is that HPV can be prevented with the HPV vaccine. Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care. Most insurance plans cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening, which means women can get those services at no cost to them.

Today, no woman needs to die from this disease. Cervical cancer has become the ultimate preventable cancer success story. Thanks to advances in early detection and prevention, the cervical cancer death rate has declined by almost 70% due to increased use of Pap tests and the 5 year survival rate for women diagnosed with cervical cancer is close to 75%. For a timeline on research and testing developments as well as a list of major risk factors, see the infographic below from the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

You can find more information and resources on cervical cancer at the American Cancer Society.

About the Author

Walter Jessen is a senior writer for Highlight HEALTH Media.