Screenings, vaccine key to treating cervical cancer – The Livingston County News

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Although more than 4,000 women will die from cervical cancer in the United States, the disease is highly preventable because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent HPV infections are available.

When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.

Cervical cancer starts in a woman’s cervix, the opening of the uterus and connects the uterus to the vagina. Cervical cancer usually starts with changes to the cells on the cervix; if found early, these cells can be removed to prevent cancer.

There usually aren’t any symptoms of cervical cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. So it is important for women to get a Pap test (or Pap smear) regularly. The Pap test can prevent cervical cancer or find it early. In the United States, the Pap test has reduced cervical cancer rates by more than 70 percent.

Women ages 21 to 65 years old should have regular screening tests for cervical cancer.

The Livingston County Reproductive Health Center offers free or low cost confidential health care to adults and teens; call the Center at (585) 243-7540 to schedule an exam.

Most cervical cancers are caused by persistent infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common virus that can be spread from one person to another during sex.

The HPV vaccine, Gardasil, can prevent HPV and the cancer caused by HPV. The vaccine is recommended for girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 14, and young adults through age 26. Individuals between the ages of 9 and 26 or their parents should talk to their health care provider about the HPV vaccine.

Call the Cancer Services Program of the Finger Lakes Region at 1 (877) 803-8070 to see if you are eligible for free breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings.

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