January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. However, death rates have decreased by more than 50 percent over the past four decades and continue to fall on average .7% each year. Because cervical pre-cancers have no signs or symptoms – and early cervical cancer rarely has any, either- it is important for women to have regular cervical cancer screening. ACS recommends that all women have a cervical cancer screening (Pap test) beginning at age 21, and for some women this can be in combination with the HPV test. Infection with HPV is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer. Because the HPV vaccine works best before exposure to HPV, ACS recommends that boys and girls get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12 but they can start the series as young as age 9. By vaccinating pre-teens before exposure to HPV and continuing to screen women, ACS believes HPV infections and cervical cancer can be eliminated, but this will likely take several decades.
The American Cancer Society is actively fighting cervical cancer on many fronts. ACS funds new research to help prevent, find, and treat cervical cancer: we are currently funding 27 cervical cancer research grants totally more than $6 million. ACS is also spearheading a public health campaign called Mission: HPV Cancer Free to eliminate vaccine-preventable HPV cancers, starting with cervical cancer. The campaign goal is to reach an annual vaccination rate of 80% of 13-year-olds in the United States by 2026. The ACS Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is advocating to ensure that every woman can have access to life saving screening exams and tests. ACS CAN is urging Congress to direct U.S. global health research funds to support a campaign to eliminate death from cervical cancer, supporting comprehensive cancer control efforts aimed at increasing uptake of the HPV vaccination, advocating for implementation of evidence-based policy proposals that will have meaningful impact on vaccination acceptance, and fighting for equitable access to cervical cancer care. And as always, the Society provides information resources and valuable access to care programs to those who have been impacted by cervical cancer.
Check out the links below to learn more about cervical cancer and what the America Cancer Society and the Cancer Action Network is doing to fight the disease:
Explore and Share these resources:
– Reliable Information about cervical cancer on cancer.org
– The Society’s Guidelines for the Prevention and Early Detection of Cervical Cancer
– What ACS CAN is doing to fight cervical cancer
Look out for and share posts about Cervical Cancer and HPV from the Society’s Facebook (facebook.com/AmericanCancerSociety) and Twitter pages (@AmericanCancer):
Michelle Chappell, MS
Senior Manager, State Health Systems
American Cancer Society, Inc.