Raising awareness about a cancer that has a vaccine
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging testing and vaccination to help prevent this disease that will affect an estimated 370 women in Michigan this year.
The Pap test is a simple and affordable screening test to detect cervical cancer in women, yet most cervical cancer deaths occur in women who have either never had a Pap test or have not been screened in more than five years. Women should begin regular screening for cervical cancer at age 21.
Women’s preventive health care — such as screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, mammograms, immunizations and other services — is covered through the Healthy Michigan Plan without co-pays. Pap tests also are available at Family Planning Clinics, and for women ages 21 to 64, Pap testing is accessible through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control and Navigation Program. For more information about BCCCNP, call 844-446-8727.
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine protects against the types of HPV most associated with many cancers, including cervical cancer. The vaccine is safe and is most effective when given at the recommended ages of 11 to 12 years. However, it can be started as early as age 9 and given through age 26. For best protection, everyone should receive all recommended doses of the HPV vaccination.
Vaccines for Children, Medicaid, MI-Child and most health insurances pay for the HPV vaccine. If your child does not have health insurance or does not have insurance that covers these vaccines, ask your health care provider or local health department about the VFC program. VFC provides vaccines at no- or low- cost to eligible children, 18 years of age and younger.
In addition to HPV, other factors that can increase your risk of cervical cancer include: smoking, having HIV or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems, using birth control pills for five or more years and having given birth to three or more children.
For more information, go to CDC.gov/cancer/gynecologic.