Each year, approximately 12,000 women in the United States will learn they have cervical cancer and about 4,000 will die from an advanced form of the disease. All women are at risk for cervical cancer but it occurs most often in women over age 30. However, cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and follow-up. It also is highly curable when found and treated early.
There are two tests that can either help prevent cervical cancer or help in early detection. The first test is a Pap smear. A Pap test looks for pre-cancerous cell changes on the cervix that can be treated, so that cervical cancer is prevented. The Pap test can find cervical cancer early, when treatment is most effective. The Pap test is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening tests available and is recommended for women ages 21-65 years old. After age 65, most women can stop having Pap smears as long as they have had three negative tests within the past 10 years. The second test screens for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - the virus that can cause precancerous cell changes and cervical cancer.
Pap smears and HPV tests are covered by most insurance programs, the Every Woman Counts Cancer Detection Program (CDP) or family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment (Family PACT) program.
Women who are in need of treatment for breast and/or cervical cancer may be eligible for the breast and cervical cancer treatment program.
Redwoods Rural Health Center encourages women to contact their health care provider to schedule a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. Screening is a crucial part of a woman’s health care regimen, yet one that many overlook. It’s important to remember that cervical cancer is a preventable disease - as long as it’s caught early enough. To schedule an appointment at RRHC, call (707) 923-2783, or visit 101 West Coast Rd. in Redway.