Protect yourself from cervical cancer

As we usher in a new year, we quickly offer up a way to get a healthy start in 2019.

It’s Cervical Health Awareness Month — a great time for our female readers to get tested.

American Cancer Society officials are reporting that between 60 and 80 percent of women with newly diagnosed invasive cervical cancer have not had a Pap smear in as many as five years, and, unfortunately, some may have never had one.

One of the unscreened groups includes older women, who may believe that with their reproductive years behind them, they’re beyond ever being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Other highly unscreened groups include the uninsured; ethnic minorities, especially Latino women, African-Americans and Asian-Americans; and poor women in rural areas.

American Cancer Society officials estimated about 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer would be diagnosed in the United States in 2018, and projected that approximately 4,170 women would die from the disease.

In Ohio, projections showed there would be 480 new cases diagnosed and 160 deaths. In Pennsylvania, projections showed 500 new cases and 160 deaths, while in West Virginia projections were for 90 new cases. Projected deaths were not available.

It’s proven that while cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, it also is one of the most preventable and treatable.

The five-year survival rate, or percentage of women who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, for all stages of cervical cancer is 67 percent. When detected at an early stage, the five-year survival rate for women with invasive cervical cancer is around 90 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.

Along those lines, officials with the Food and Drug Administration have developed advances to enhance the sensitivity of the Pap test, and new guidelines have been developed concerning the frequency of cervical cancer screenings.

Early testing, especially with cervical cancer, is the best defense, as the disease usually shows no symptoms or signs.

Statistics show that cervical cancer once was one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women.

But, between 1955 and 1992, the cervical cancer death rate declined by almost 70 percent due to the increased reliability of tests.

Cancer, including cervical cancer, remains a big killer in the Ohio Valley. And although our area has been plagued with many forms of the disease through the years, early detection continues to be the best possible defense. Period.

Please, take the time to be tested.

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