For Immediate Release
KDHE Office of Communications
TOPEKA, Kan - January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and this year it is important for women to be aware of new cervical cancer screening guidelines. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cancer Society no longer recommend that average-risk women get a Pap test every year.
According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer mortality rates among U.S. women decreased by almost 70 percent from 1955 to 1992 due in large part to the Pap test, which can detect disease in its early stages. Cervical cancer takes many years to develop and can be caught early enough with longer time intervals between Pap tests. Moreover, frequent screening can lead to unnecessary treatment procedures that can cause cervical damage. Therefore, the new screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for average-risk women are as follows:
"Even though Pap test recommendations have changed, women should continue receiving annual well woman exams,” said Robert Moser, M.D., Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary and State Health Officer. “Each woman should discuss her individual risk with her doctor to determine how frequently she should receive a Pap test. Components that may be included in annual well woman exams are a clinical breast exam, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, immunizations, routine blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and weight checks, as well as counseling on how to maintain best health and prevent or manage chronic conditions."
According to the CDC, almost all cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. HPV vaccines are now available that prevent the two HPV strains most likely to cause cervical cancer. These vaccinations are effective for a lifetime, but must be administered in a three shot series prior to adulthood. HPV vaccines are recommended for both boys and girls at ages 11 and12, but additional ages can be considered. Not all cervical cancer is prevented by the HPV vaccine; therefore, women are still recommended to get Pap tests.
When it is time for screening, the KDHE Early Detection Works (EDW) program provides breast and cervical cancer screenings for eligible women at no cost. Eligible women are Kansas residents ages 40 to 64, without health insurance, who meet income guidelines. Women can enroll for these free screenings by calling toll-free 1-877-277-1368. Limited state funds are available for women under 40 who are experiencing breast or cervical problems. EDW pays for many diagnostic follow-up tests with free or affordable treatment available to women diagnosed with cancer while participating in the program.
EDW also partners with employers, churches, organizations and other groups to provide education on breast and cervical health. Call your area EDW representative for more information about what you can do to increase awareness in and promote screening in your area. For more information on the new cervical cancer screening guidelines, visit www.cancer.org or www.cdc.gov/cancer
Note for the Editor/Reporter: Included is a map of the Early Detection Works representatives throughout the State of Kansas. Please note the contact information for the representative in your area.