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While many women schedule their annual gynecological exams around their birthdays, there are—unfortunately—millions of American women who evade their routine checkups as much as they try to avoid turning another year older!
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month during which time HealthyWomen advocates the importance of routine medical screening through a simple Pap test. If you didn't get to your gynecologist this past birthday, there's no time like January for making a fresh start and an important step forward in your health!
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women worldwide. But it is also largely preventable and curable with regular Pap tests and pelvic exams, according to the National Cancer Institute. Sure, getting a pelvic exam might not be the most enjoyable experience but neither is visiting the accountant each April—and yet we never seem to forget that appointment!
In recent years we've learned more about the causes and prevention of cervical cancer so take a minute to digest the following facts:
• Nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be associated with the human papillomavirus known as HPV. With over 100 strains of the virus, this sexually transmitted disease has 15 high-risk strains that are directly linked to cervical cancer. Persistent HPV infection can be a predictor of current or future malignancy.
• In addition to HPV infection, age, sexual activity, smoking, nutrition and family history can play a part in the likelihood of developing cancer of the cervix.
Women need to know what the risk factors are for developing cervical cancer, how to prevent the spread of HPV and the cure rate for early detection—and we're here to help.
With a host of information at your fingertips at HealthyWomen.org, we hope to help enlighten—not frighten—you into making informed decisions when it comes to genital health. If it's been a while since you've had a pelvic exam and Pap test, it's time to pick up the phone and make that call to your health provider.
Schedule your appointment, and invite your sister or a friend to come along. If she's also due for a checkup, make your appointments together. If not, you can celebrate life together by having her accompany you to the waiting room and maybe stop for coffee afterward. Be sure to return the favor when it's time for her appointment!
If we don't stay true to ourselves and our sisters, who will be there for us in the future when we turn the calendar page to celebrate another milestone?
Pick up the phone and call!
Click here to learn more about preventing and coping with gynecologic cancer.