January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Cervical Cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Cervical Cancer can be prevented by HPV vaccinations and routine cervical screening tests. Residents can ask their doctor about HPV vaccine or contact DOH-Broward. DOH-Broward also offers free pap tests for eligible clients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. Cervical cancer usually occurs in people older than 30 years of age.
In 2021, there were 371 deaths from cervical cancer in Florida with 30 of these deaths, or 8%, from Broward County (www.flhealthcharts.gov). With routine screening, vaccinations and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, cervical cancer is preventable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most important things women can do to help prevent cervical cancer are to get vaccinated against HPV, have regular pap tests and go back to the doctor if screening test results are not normal. Other strategies to lower risk for cervical cancer include avoiding smoking and using condoms during sex.
The HPV vaccine is recommended as a routine vaccination for males and females 11 or 12 years of age but can be started at age 9. The CDC also recommends vaccination for everyone through age 26 if they weren’t vaccinated when they were younger. Depending on a patient’s age, the vaccine is given as a two or three dose series. In addition to health care providers, DOH-Broward offers the HPV vaccine.
The Florida Department of Health in Broward County’s Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (FBCCEDP) is reminding women to speak to their health care provider about receiving a Pap test. The test looks for cell changes on the cervix that may become cancer if not treated. A health care provider can determine how often a client needs the test, which is typically dependent on family history and age. If the results are normal, a test may only be necessary once every three or five years.
Additionally, eligible women can receive free breast and cervical cancer screenings at various locations in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties through the FBCCEDP. Eligibility criteria for free cervical cancer screenings include: women ages 50-64 with little or no health insurance, who meet income guidelines (at or below 200% of the poverty level) and live one of the three counties. For more information and to see if you qualify, call 954-762-3649.
For information about available vaccines through DOH-Broward including the HPV vaccine, call 954-467-4705.
Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program: https://broward.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/clinical-and-nutrition-services/florida-breast-cervical-cancer/index.html
Cervical Cancer: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/