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Knowledge is power: January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

Body, Cancer

We may think of January as our kick-off to healthy diets, regular workout routines and sticking to our resolutions, but did you know that it’s also Cervical Health Awareness Month? Cervical cancer occurs most often in women over 30, and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all women are at risk for cervical cancer—about 12,000 women in the U.S. get cervical cancer every year. The good news is that it is highly preventable with regular screening, or Pap, tests.

According to the American Cancer Society, all women should begin cervical cancer testing at age 21, and continue for every three years until the age of 30, when women should be tested every five years along with HPV testing (called co-testing). Women over 65 who have had regular screenings without any serious pre-cancers for the previous 20 years can stop cervical cancer screening. However, it is important to remember that every woman is different and may require additional testing as discussed with your healthcare provider.

While all women are at risk for cervical cancer, there are a few risk factors that can make some women more susceptible, such as smoking, family history, weakened immune system and a diet low in fruits and vegetables, to name a few. To decrease your risk, quitting smoking and adopting a healthy diet is a great way to boost your chances of avoiding cervical cancer (and many other diseases associated with these habits). Another way to reduce your risk is to talk with your healthcare provider (see a trend here?) for tips to keep you in tip-top reproductive shape.

A common misconception about cervical cancer is that the signs and symptoms are obvious and present, but this is not the case; Early cancer may not have any signs or symptoms—so that’s why it’s important to get regularly screened. This type of cancer is one of the most treatable, and according to the American Cancer Society, the cervical cancer death rate declined by more than 50 percent over the last 30 years because of regular screenings. So get screened on schedule, ladies!

To locate your nearest Adventist Health provider to discuss your reproductive health, click here. To learn more about cervical cancer, check out the American Cancer Society’s fact page