OPINION

Health and Wellness: Cancer of the cervix

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department

This may be an awkward read for some persons; but the message is important.  According to the American Cancer Society, every year about a third of women diagnosed with cervical cancer die from it.

Many older women don’t realize their risk of cervical cancer is still present as they age. If you are uninsured or your insurance does not cover a Pap test, call the Dallas County Health Navigators at 515-993-3750 to apply for a free screening through Care for Yourself.

Doctors believe that cervical cancer starts with the human papilloma virus (HPV). Some high-risk HPV infections are strongly linked to cancer.  See details at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions. 

Amazingly, a vaccine has been developed against the virus causing this cancer. HPV vaccines are safe and effectively protect males and females from getting and spreading the virus. The vaccines should be given before a person is sexually active.  However, even if sexual activity has begun, a person can still be protected by the vaccine.  The two-dose series for boys and girls should start around 11-12 years of age:  https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine.html. Vaccines are covered by most insurance and are available at your son or daughter’s primary clinic during a regular check-up or sports physical.