Cervical Cancer Screening Month

January is Cervical Cancer Screening Month.

As you may know, most cervical cancer is caused by HPV, which is the most commonly transmitted STD and often shows no symptoms. The current best method of protection (other than condoms, but it’s not an either/or choice), is pap smears.

Around 84% of American women have had a pap smear within the last three years. Surprisingly, black women have higher rates of pap smears than white women, but all other ethnicities have lower rates than whites. Less surprisingly, though, (considering our horrid health care system) black women have a higher rates of cervical cancer than whites do, and Hispanic women have the highest rate of all ethnicities. Approximately eight out of every 100,000 Ameircan women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. As it turns out, 60%-80% of women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had a pap smear in the last five years. Luckily death rates are low, but they are lowest among whites and highest among blacks with Hispanics falling in the middle. This is likely because the risk of cancer increases with fewer pap smears, and the risk of death increases the longer the cancer goes undiagnosed.

The recommendations for frequency of screening differ from country to country and from doctor to doctor. In America, once a year is generally recommended; in Australia, for example, it’s every two years.  But there does seem to be a consensus that more than three years is too long.

So, if you’re due for a pap smear, go. If you’ve never had one, go. No, they’re not the most fun thing in the world. But I’ve had a lot worse medical tests, and as long as you have a doctor who knows what he/she is doing, it doesn’t hurt.  In the off chance that it does hurt, don’t be an idiot like I was as a teenager: say something.   This is a great resource explaining what happens during a pap smear and pelvic exam. And if you know someone who is due but not going, get on her ass. Many clinics — Planned Parenthoods included — offer pap smears on a sliding scale fee structure, so call around. It’s a lot better to go “for nothing” (not have any abnormal results) than to not go and end up wishing you had. Oh, and if you are eligible for the HPV vaccine and can afford it . . . get it.

0 thoughts on “Cervical Cancer Screening Month

  1. Teresa

    I, having battled and won a fight with HPV and severe cervical dysplasia, strongly agree with getting a pap every year. Please please please however, before getting the HPV vaccine, read about it. There are many websites out there that talk about the risks associated with this vaccine, you only have to do an online search.

    Do your homework ladies.

    Reply
  2. Cara Post author

    Indeed there are. There are also many websites out there that talk about the benefits. But certainly, everyone should do their own research and use it to make a personal decision.

    Reply
  3. brandann

    i wish i had found out about the HPV vaccine b/f i turned 27, as cervical cancer, while apparently not hereditary, has affected every woman on my mom’s side for generations…and it is something i would recommend for my daughter, based on my own research…

    please! everyone get screened!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s