January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed each year, and nearly 79 million more Americans are living with human papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV can come in different types, which can cause infections like genital warts and can even cause cervical changes that lead to cancer. Although cervical cancer is the most commonly associated type of cancer, other kinds, including genital, anal, throat, and oropharyngeal cancers, are possible.
With vaccinations and proper testing, cervical cancer from HPV is preventable. HPV vaccines can help to prevent infection caused by HPV in both men and women. Cervical cancer screenings detect abnormal cells before they change into cancerous ones. Regular screenings are an effective measure to detect the disease early and evaluate course of treatment. Screenings are also vital as some people will not develop symptoms from HPV and a test will give a clear idea of HPV status.
Cervical cancer is preventable through proper vaccinations and early screenings and we encourage and support our community members to take charge of their health and take time to surround themselves with the best possible resources. For low cost or free services, the Pennsylvania Department of Health features the Healthy Woman Program, which provides services including Pap and HPV tests, breast examinations, mammograms, and more for eligible Pennsylvanians.