Simple test can catch cervical cancer

WVU educators urge women to schedule routine Pap test

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month, and West Virginia University health professionals are encouraging women to schedule their routine Pap tests as part of the new year.

“One simple test can have such a huge impact on the fight against cervical cancer,” said Samantha Haverlock, education coordinator for WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. “When the Pap test was invented in 1955, women began taking control of their health. Cervical cancer is no longer one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women in the United States, and West Virginia is doing its part to guarantee that.”

The West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program at WVU guides low-income, uninsured or underinsured women to free or low-cost Pap tests. Pap tests have been credited with a dramatic drop in the death rate from cervical cancer, which continues to decrease by four percent a year.

The Pap test can detect changes in the cervix before cancer develops, or it can detect cancer in its earliest stages when more treatment options are available. Cervical cancer is almost always curable when detected early.

“In addition to routine screening, knowing and understanding risk factors can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer,” Haverlock said. “The most important risk factor associated with cervical cancer is infection with the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is a group of common sexually transmitted viruses.  Other risk factors include smoking, having first intercourse at a young age or having multiple sexual partners.”

According to Haverlock, a woman with a family of four can have a total household income of $42,396 and be eligible for the program, which works with more than 300 providers statewide to ensure that eligible women receive the services they need.

Women can call 1-800-642-8522 for more information about the program or to find a provider in their area. 

“Don’t wait. Schedule your Pap test today,” Haverlock said.

For information on the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center see http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/mbrcc/.

For information on the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program see http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/mbrcc/bccsp/ or www.wvdhhr.org/bccsp.


For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
SH/ab: 12-11-08

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