January puts spotlight on cervical health

Todd G. Higdon

About 10,000 American women will learn they have cervical cancer/HPV this year, and nearly 4,000 will die from an advanced form of the disease.

Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. The cervix leads from the uterus to the birth canal.

January has been named Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) is focused on educating women about the importance of the Pap test as a screening tool for cervical cancer/HPV and about the vaccines that can further reduce the burden of this disease.

However, there is a simple vaccination that can help protect girls and women against cervical cancer -- Gardasil.

“It is recommended for girls and women ages 9 to 26,” said, Patti Yates, nursing supervisor for the Newton County Health Department.

It is given in three doses in a period of six months, and it is designed to offer protection before a girl or woman becomes sexually active. The first dose is administered at a date when the patient and their doctor chooses, the second dose is two months after the first dose and the third is six months after the first dose.

The vaccine protects against four types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which are responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancers and 90 percent of all genital warts.

HPV is spread through sexual contact. About 20 million Americans are infected with it and each year, there are 6.2 million new infections. Half of the new infections will be found in adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 24.

According to a fact sheet about the new vaccine, the possible side effects include pain, swelling, itching, and redness at the injection site, fever, nausea and dizziness.

“While there is a vaccine and an important step forward in the fight against cervical cancer, women should also continue to receive regular screenings and Pap tests,” Yates said.

Neosho Daily News