From the Broome County Health Department:

(Binghamton, NY)- All women are at risk for cervical cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long lasting infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another through intimate skin-to-skin contact.

Nearly all sexually active people will have HPV in some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is very preventable with the availability of screening tests and the HPV vaccine.

When detected early, cervical cancer is highly treatable and can correlate to an increased lifespan and quality of life. Cancer Services Program (CSP), Community Cancer Prevention in Action (CPiA), and United Health Services (UHS) have teamed up to educate our community about the importance of cervical cancer screenings and the HPV vaccine.

CSP, CPiA, and UHS urge women to get screened for cervical cancer.

CSP is supported with funds from the State of New York and offers screenings to women ages 40 and older without insurance.

New York State data shows women without health insurance are less likely to get some life-saving preventative care services, like cancer screenings.

“Our program can help close the cervical cancer screening gap for women without insurance” said Carrie Horton, Supervising Public Health Educator.

“According to the most recent New York State data (2016) about 71% of women without insurance have had a pap test within the past three years, compared to roughly 88% of women with health insurance.”

This screening gap puts women without health insurance at a higher risk for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is most often found in women who rarely get screened or have never been screened.

Screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer by finding cells that lead to cancer, which can be removed before cancer starts.

Cervical cancer does not usually have symptoms in the beginning, which makes regular screenings the key to an early diagnosis, when treatment is most effective.

CPiA is supported with funds from the State of New York and encourages worksites to adopt paid leave time for cancer screenings.

Paid leave time for cancer screenings can help employees be up to date on their recommended screenings for cancers such as breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers.

Employers can adopt their own organizational policy allowing employees to take paid leave time for cancer screenings.

“The CPiA program assists employers with the development and implementation of a paid time off policy which will allow employees to used paid leave time from work to obtain lifesaving cancer screenings” said Mary McFadden, CPiA Program Coordinator. “This policy is cost effective and has benefits to the employers, such as a healthier and more productive workforce, lower direct medical, workers’ compensation and disability costs; and less cost associated with recruitment and training of new workers.”

UHS has partnered with CPiA on educating the community on the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine prevents about 90% of HPV-related cancers, including cervical. The HPV vaccine provides a safe and lasting protection against infections that cause HPV-related cancers.

The vaccine is a series of two doses for boys and girls ages 11-12. The vaccine can be given to men and women up to the ages of 26.

“Parents oftentimes do not think about the importance of vaccinations in their preteen child, as it related to life-threatening illnesses they may contract as an adolescent or adult” said Dr. Mary DeGuardi, lead physician of Pediatrics at UHS.

“Only about 60% of females and 50% of males in New York state complete the two-dose vaccine series as recommended, these rates aren’t where they could be.”

For more information about risk factors for cervical cancer, visit https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/cervical/.

To find a Cancer Services Program in your community, call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262) or visit https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/community_resources/.

For more information on Community Cancer Prevention in Action of Broome County, visit http://takeactionagainstcancer.com/agency/broome-county-health-department/ .