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January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

As another year begins, we at the Community Health Center are excited to continue our efforts of providing the highest quality of healthcare to our patient community. January has been designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month, and we are committed to educating our patients about this topic. CHC has a robust Early Detection Program (EDP) and is constantly working to provide knowledge and understanding of how to prevent and treat diseases and illnesses that could progress into cancer. Continue reading for some useful information about cervical health, HPV, and cervical cancer.

Where is your cervix?
The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus, and connects the female vagina to the upper uterus. It plays an important role in the reproductive process, as it has an opening through which sperm and menstrual fluid pass. One of the primary ways that the cervix can develop complications is through HPV, which is covered in more detail below.

What is HPV?
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are between 30 and 40 types of HPV, and both men and women can get the infection. It is most frequently passed along through sexual activity, and the CDC predicts that there are over 6 million new genital cases of HPV in the United States each year.

There are no physical signs or symptoms generally associated with HPV so many cases go undetected. Though many cases of HPV are eliminated by the body’s immune system, those that are not eradicated naturally can be harmful to the body. In some instances, men and women can develop genital warts, and in the most extreme of cases, several cancers can result from HPV. Cervical cancer is one such example, and is described more in-depth in the next section.

What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is – quite literally – cancer of the cervix. The primary way that cervical cancer can develop is by contracting HPV, therefore the best way to prevent this cancer is to deal with HPV cases before they get serious.

HPV Types 16 and 18 account for up to 75% of cervical cancer cases in the United States. As previously mentioned, many cases of HPV do not show physical symptoms, so it is important to have regular cervical cancer screenings to be as proactive as possible in preventing oneself from getting the disease.

More information on how you can have cervical cancer screenings done at CHC is available below.

CHC’s Early Detection Program
The Early Detection Program (fully known as the Connecticut Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program) is a nationwide grant program, initiated through the CDC and funded in Connecticut by the Department of Public Health. The program provides free cervical and breast cancer screenings to women ages 21-64 who are underinsured/uninsured and whose household income falls at or below the 200% Federal Poverty Limit. This program exists as a resource for eligible women to obtain an annual GYN office visit, a pap test every three years, and a yearly mammogram for women ages 40-64. Women who are interested in this program and would like more information on obtaining an enrollment application can stop by any CHC medical site. Additionally, women who have specific questions regarding the program or cervical and breast health are welcome to contact the program directly at (860) 347-6971 ext. 3513.

Fast Facts

  • Globally, cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer in women (NCCC)
  • More than 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States every year. (NCCC)
  • 8 out of 10 women are estimated to have HPV at some point in their lives, though many cases go away without treatment (theHPVtest.com)
  • At least half of all sexually-active people will have a HPV at some point in their lives. (CDC)
  • In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within 2 years. (CDC)
  • 74% of HPV cases are believed to be in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 (HPV.com)

Quick Links

National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC)

Mayo Clinic

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)