Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman are raising awareness about the risk factors and symptoms of cervical cancer and the importance of cancer screening during National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, which is held each January.
According to Gelman, HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, causing almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected, Gelman said. Some risk factors include:
- Having multiple sex partners
- Having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
- Using birth control pills for five or more years
“Early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms,” said Dr. Gelman. “That’s why screening and vaccination are so important. It is recommended that women begin screening (Pap test) at age 21 and continue screening at intervals suggested by their doctor. HPV vaccination protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancers and is recommended for pre-teens aged 11 to 12 years, and for everyone through age 26 years if they are not already vaccinated.”
Added Neuhaus: “All women are at risk for cervical cancer; however, it is highly preventable through regular screening and vaccine, and when detected early is also highly treatable. I strongly urge women to talk to their doctor about screening and vaccination for cervical cancer, as well as other cancers that can be caused by HPV.”
Cervical cancer screening is an important part of overall gynecological health. The Orange County Cancer Screening Collaborative is a collaboration between the Orange County Department of Health, Cornerstone Health Center, Orange Regional Medical Center, Montefiore St. Luke’s Hospital, Bon Secours Community Hospital, St. Anthony Community Hospital, Planned Parenthood of the Hudson Valley, RECAP, Orange County Cancer Services, and Hudson River Healthcare. The collaborative aims to move the conversation from awareness to action by increasing breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening rates in Orange County.
For more information on cervical cancer, available screenings, or how to become involved in the cancer collaborative, please call the Orange County Department of Health at 845-360-6680.