January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month and here at Wellshare we would like to continue to spread this awareness. The difference between cervical cancer and other cancers is that cervical cancer is a cancer or cancers that start in the cervix and only applies to women of reproductive age. The cancer usually stems from when different kinds of human papillomavirus (HPV) exist within a woman’s body for a long period of time. HPV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and although HPV will infect only half of women, very little will get cervical cancer.
It is important for women to start getting screened for cervical cancer as early as the age of 21 to protect them from future risks. At that time, your provider will do a pap smear to look for precancers. If your test results return normal you do not need to get tested again for another three years. Women over the age of 30 have a few more options where they can either get the pap test and wait three years if they receive normal results, get the hpv test and wait five years if they receive normal results, or get both and wait five years if they receive normal results.
The HPV vaccine begins for young women sometimes as early as the age of 9. The vaccine is known to be effective until a woman reaches the age of 26. After that, doctors do not often recommend receiving the vaccine as it does not contribute as much benefit.
If you have not yet received a pap smear and/or HPV vaccination and are worried about cost due to low income or no health insurance, you may be entitled to the CDC’s free or low-cost National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.