January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

As January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, now is the ideal time to learn what you can do to detect and prevent cervical cancer by scheduling an annual gynecologic exam with your health care provider, according to health care workers with Oswego County Opportunities.

“This is an excellent time for women to learn about the risks of, and get screened for, cervical cancer,” said Carolyn Handville, coordinator of the Cancer Services Program of Oswego County.

“With regular screening and follow-up care, cervical cancer is avoidable, and, if caught early, curable,” she said.

According to the state Department of Health, cervical cancer is almost always caused by persistent infection of the human papillomavirus (HPV).

There usually are not any symptoms of cervical cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. That’s why having a regular Pap test is the key to prevention.

In the United States, the Pap test has reduced cervical cancer rates by more than 70 percent, according to the health department.

“All women are at risk for cervical cancer,” said Handville. “It is especially important for women who have not had a Pap test within the past five years to get screened because six out of 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not had one in the past five years.”

It also is important to continue getting a Pap test, even if you think you are too old to have a child, or are not having sex anymore.

“Talk with your health care provider to schedule your pelvic exam and Pap test today. If you are uninsured and 40 to 64 years of age, call 592-0830 to schedule a free cervical cancer screening,” Handville said.

Administered through Oswego County Opportunities, the Cancer Services Program Partnership offers a number of cancer screening services including: clinical breast exams, mammograms, pap/pelvic exams and colorectal cancer screenings for men and women.

These screenings are available year round, free of charge, and play an important part in maintaining good health.

For more information, or for eligibility requirements on the Cancer Services Program Partnership, call Carolyn Handville at 592-0830.

For more information on Oswego County Opportunities, go oco.org.

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