Awareness month educates women on cervical cancer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The month of January is Cervical

Cancer Awareness Month and the Alabama Department of Public Health encourages all women to get screened. Free breast and cervical screenings are available for women who meet department guidelines, according to information received from the agency.

Dallas County director of public health, Ashvin Parikh, said that many women receive these screenings at the Dallas County office, located at 100 Samuel Moseley Dr., which is open 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. He emphasized the importance of calling and making an appointment in advance (334) 874-2550.

Email newsletter signup

The statewide program offers free pelvic exams and Pap smears as well as free clinical breast exams primarily to women ages 40 to 64 who do not have any insurance or who are underinsured and who meet the income eligibility guidelines. Women ages 50 to 64 receive free mammograms in addition to the two exams.

The American Cancer Society estimates that at least 13,000 women in the United States, including 200 in Alabama, will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 4,100 will die of this disease this year.

Risk factors include being middle-aged; having HPV, a sexually transmitted disease; smoking; having sex at an early age; having multiple sexual partners or a partner who has had many sexual partners, among others.

Cervical screening, according to the health department, should begin about three years after a women begins having vaginal intercourse, but no later than age 21, and should be done annually with a Pap test. At or after age 30, women who have had three normal tests results in a row may get screened every two to three years, unless a physician recommends more frequent testing due to the presence of risk factors.

Women 70 years of age and older who have had three or more normal Pap test results and no abnormal results in the last 10 years may choose to stop cervical cancer screening.

For further information, call 1-877-252-3324.