January is Cervical Health Awareness Month
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the Sussex Warren Chronic Disease Coalition wants you to know that there's a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. Every year in the U.S., about 12,000 women get cervical cancer and about 4,000 women die from it.
When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sexual activity. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer.
Some additional risks for getting cervical cancer include:
- Having HIV or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems
- Using birth control pills for five or more years
- Having given birth to three or more children
- Having several sexual partners
There are ways to reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer. One preventative step is to have regular screening tests (called Pap tests), starting at age 21, and follow-up with your doctor. Another way to reduce risk is to get the HPV vaccine (shot) that may prevent HPV, starting at age 11 or 12. Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn't get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.
For more information about cervical cancer, visit the Sussex Warren Chronic Disease Coalition website, at www.sussex.nj.us/sussexwarrencoalition .