Cervical Health Awareness: Cancer Screening · HPV Vaccine · What To Ask Your Doctor · New Jersey Dept. Health
Each year in the U.S., more than 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over 4,200 die as a result. In both the U.S. and abroad, cervical cancer is most often found in women living in poverty and who lack access to health care.
Cervical cancer screening is recommended for women beginning at age 30. There are three options:
– A Papanicolaou (Pap) test every three years
– An HPV test every five years
– Pap and HPV tests every five years
Since 1914, the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) has had the mission to improve the sexual health of individuals, families, and communities with a focus on educating about and preventing sexually transmitted infections. ASHA has special websites targeting teens (iWannaKnow.org) and Spanish speakers.
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) is a program of ASHA includes friends, caregivers, women’s groups, cytotechnologists, health care providers, biotech companies, cancer researchers, and organizations providing cervical cancer detection programs.
But ASHA President Lynn Barclay says providing access to medical care is only part of their job — at its extreme, lack of comfort with sexual health topics can even result in women avoiding gynecologic care due to a sense of shame.
“It’s important that patients and providers both feel comfortable talking about sexual health, including cervical cancer prevention. These conversations are often rushed through or avoided altogether. When it comes to sexual and reproductive health we should be comfortable in our own skin, and have the confidence to seek the care and support we need.
“I urge every woman to talk with her health care provider about all of the prevention tools we have at our disposal: Pap and HPV tests and cervical cancer vaccines.” One place to start is with ASHA’s Ten Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider about Sexual Health.