CASPER, Wyo. — January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the Casper-Natrona County Health Department and Wyoming Cancer Resource Services program are encouraging cervical cancer screening and prevention.
According to a statement from CNCHD, Women ages 21-65 are recommended to be screened for cervical cancer by pap test every 3 years, and individuals aged 30-65 who want to lengthen that screening time should receive a pap test and HPV screening together every 5 years.
“The best way to find cervical cancer early is to follow regular screening guidelines,” said Grace Niemitalo, Wyoming Cancer Resource Services coordinator. “Early detection helps identify and treat pre-cancerous and early-stage cancer in more curable stages,” Niemitalo said.
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In addition to regular screenings, the CNCHD says HPV vaccination can greatly reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer.
“We strongly recommend the HPV vaccination for anyone between the ages of 9-26, but the ideal time to receive the vaccination is 11-12, when children’s immune systems are so responsive,” Niemitalo said. It is estimated that nearly 80% of sexually active people are exposed to HPV in their lifetimes and 35,000 new cases of cancer a year are caused by HPV.
“Receiving the HPV vaccination reduces an individual’s risk of developing HPV related cancers, including cervical cancer, or spreading HPV to other individuals who may develop cervical cancer” Niemitalo said.
“We really want to encourage folks to be proactive in their health care by providing programs that help increase screening frequency, reduce risk-factors like tobacco use and prevent the development altogether of HPV-related- this is really important to us” Niemitalo said.
For eligible individuals, the Wyoming Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program covers the cost of cervical screenings and a no-cost HPV vaccination program is available through Casper-Natrona County Health Department and the Wyoming Cancer Resource Services program.