It’s time to stop leaving women behind when it comes to cervical cancer screening – USA Today

March has been a crazy busy month for Cervivor and for the visibility of cervical cancer prevention. An international awareness day! An editorial in a national newspaper! A piece of legislation introduced in Congress! As the month draws to a close, here is a recap:

An International Awareness Day

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The month kicked off with International HPV Awareness Day on March 4. The day featured online events, press conferences, webinars and more taking place around the world.

The awareness day may have come and gone, but the International Papillomavirus Society, the official sponsors of the day, have terrific posters and visuals you can download and share at any time. Their graphics can be be a great addition to your social media feeds!

An Editorial in a National Newspaper: USA Today

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Also in March, USA Today featured an editorial on the importance of cervical cancer prevention co-authored by Cervivor founder Tamika Felder and Anna Giuliano, Ph.D., the founding director of the Center for Immunization and Infection Research In Cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center. The editorial highlighted the need for more proactive screening in uninsured/underserved communities and expressed frustration at the lowering of cervical cancer screening goals in the recently-released “Healthy People 2030” national public health initiative. The editorial offered a strong call to action: 

“Decades of groundbreaking research have provided the tools to eliminate cervical cancer. Yet, every two hours a woman in the U.S. dies of this preventable cancer. It is time to stop leaving women behind and work collectively to get every woman, regardless of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, up to date with cervical cancer screening. Let’s create a national goal to achieve cervical cancer elimination, a strategy for the U.S. to accomplish this goal and a revision of the Healthy People 2030 objectives.”

Share the article on your social media feeds. Make sure to highlight your personal passion for this issue and your involvement with Cervivor!

Legislation Introduced in Congress

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The “Promoting Resources to Expand Vaccination, Education and New Treatments for HPV (PREVENT HPV) Cancers Act”  was introduced in Congress in March.  Cervivor was quoted in the press release announcing the bill. This legislation would, if enacted in the future, address many of the education and health equity needs surrounding cervical cancer prevention.

Our voices and our stories and our advocacy will be important to move this bill forward. The introduction of a piece of legislation is only the start of a long chain of legislative steps that can ultimately lead to bill passage (or not). Bill passage can take years. Bills can get folded into other legislation. Bills can get debated by committee but never elevated to the House or Senate floor for a vote. In this case, the bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, but so far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate. So there is a long road ahead… 

On the other hand, the introduction of a bill is itself a win! It means that members of Congress and their staff are paying attention to this issue, and Congressional attention can translate to media attention and enhanced media coverage. It means that there will be future conversations as the Congressional sponsors seek other co-signers and supporters. We at Cervivor, are in it for the long haul, advocating and  sharing our stories.

What You Need To Know About Cervical Cancer Prevention

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. We at Cervivor, a global group of cervical cancer survivors committed to ending cervical cancer, want  you to be aware of this: cervical cancer is completely preventable through vaccination and screening. This January, get familiar with these 5 things to know about cervical cancer prevention.

Know What Causes Cervical Cancer: HPV

  1. Nearly all cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection. Nearly 80 million Americans have HPV at any given time, and about 14 million become newly infected every year. In fact, most sexually active people contract HPV at some point in their lives. The virus spreads easily through skin-to-skin sexual contact; sex doesn’t have to occur for the infection to spread. Most types of HPV don’t post a health risk and don’t cause symptoms, so many people don’t ever know they have it. The good news is: more than 90 percent of all new HPV infections go away on their own, fought off by the body’s immune system. Yet for some women, HPV stay in the body, is not cleared by the immune system, and can lead to cell changes that result in cervical cancer.   

Get the HPV Vaccine for Yourself and/or Your Kids

  1. HPV vaccines have been available in the United States since 2006. These vaccines protect against infection with the HPV types most commonly linked to cancer, as well as some types that can cause genital warts. The vaccine prevents HPV infection – and, as a result, prevents cervical cancer as well as prevents against other cancers related to HPV such as penile cancer, anal cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancer. 
  1. The Centers for Disease Control recommends the HPV vaccine for girls and boys ages 11 to 12. At this age, the vaccine is administered in two doses spaced six to 12 months apart. Since this isn’t a school-mandated vaccine, parents need to be proactive and ask their pediatricians and family practice physicians for it.
  1. Older teens and adults also can receive the HPV vaccine. Immune response to the HPV vaccine in adults and older teens is different than in children, so recommendations are for a series of three doses, rather than two. 

Keep Up with Pap & HPV Testing to Catch Any Early Pre-Cancers

  1. Cervical cancer progresses slowly, so don’t skip your pap test! Keeping up with your “well woman” health visits is a proven way to prevent cervical cancer. Certain “high risk” types of HPV cause the cells to progress from a pre-cancer stage to invasive cancer, but that progression can be slow so there is ample opportunity to capture cancer through screening before it develops. Be vigilant about seeing your gynecologist or family physician for Pap testing (which looks for abnormalities caused by HPV) and HPV testing (which looks for the presence of the high-risk strains on HPV). 

The American Cancer Society reports that about 13,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and about 4,290 women will die from this disease. Worldwide those numbers are as high as 570,000 newly diagnosed and more than 300,000 die annually.

We at Cervivor, survivors of cervical cancer who are living with its aftermath, work to ensure that others do not suffer or die from this very preventable cancer. Screen. Vaccinate. Prevent cervical cancer. Spread the word.