The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources today reminded residents about the seriousness of cervical cancer as part of National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, highlighting the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WVBCCSP) that is available to eligible women across the state.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health and State Health Officer, noted there were 107 women diagnosed with cervical cancer in West Virginia last year and data indicate that approximately 100 more women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all cervical cancers occur in women rarely or never screened for cancer, and another 10%–20% of cancers develop among women who were screened, but did not receive adequate follow-up care.
“Cervical cancer is preventable with Pap screening tests and vaccine to combat human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer,” Gupta said. “When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long-term survival and good quality of life. We now have HPV vaccines available to prevent cervical cancer before it occurs.”
Gupta encouraged West Virginia women to take advantage of the WVBCCSP that assists in providing low-income, uninsured, or underinsured women free or low-cost Pap tests.
“The West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program works with over 300 providers statewide to ensure program-eligible women receive the services they need to help protect the health and well-being of women who may be at highest risk,” said Gupta. “An uninsured woman with a family of four can have a total household income of $59,628 and still be eligible for the program.”
The American Cancer Society reports that the number of cervical cancer deaths decreased 70% between 1955 and 1992, and continues to decline each year due to increasing use of the Pap test. The Pap test can detect changes in the cervix before cancer develops and it can detect cancer in its earliest stages when more treatment options are available. Cervical cancer is nearly 100% curable when detected early. For females under the age of 26, HPV vaccination is available and provides protection against cervical cancer.
To learn more about cervical cancer and the WVBCCSP visit www.wvdhhr.org/bccsp/
or call 1-800-642-8522.
Toby D. Wagoner ■ Public Information Officer ■ Bureau for Public Health ■ Phone: (304) 356-4042 ■ E-mail: Toby.D.Wagoner@WV.Gov