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Cervical Cancer Affects Everyone

Cervical Cancer Affects Everyone

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Latina women have the highest rate of cervical cancer amongst all groups of women in the United States as well as the 2rd highest death rate from cervical cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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The high disease and death rates are attributed to the low screening rates for Latinas. The CDC reports Latinas ages 18-44 have a lower screening rate than whites and blacks. Low testing rates are possibly a result of embarrassment of the results, fear, and lack of knowledge of affordable screening options and reproductive health care resources.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. The goal is to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer affects the cervix in the lower portion of the female reproductive system. The cervix connects the upper vagina to the uterus, during childbirth the cervix allows the baby to travel from the uterus to the vagina.

Cervical cancer can be caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a very common sexually transmitted infection that affects 79 millions Americans. HPV vaccines are also available to prevent many strands of the virus.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2013 about 12,340 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will the diagnosed and about 4,030 women will die from cervical cancer. If caught at an early stage, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers with a nearly 100% 5-year survival rate.

85% of deaths from cervical cancers are from women who have never had a pap smear, a test that checks the cervix for abnormal cell changes.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following for early detection:

“All women should begin cervical cancer testing (screening) at age 21. Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every 3 years. HPV testing should not be used for screening in this age group (although it may be used as a part of follow-up for an abnormal Pap test).”

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