Cervical cancer is the 15th leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Florida, but it is the easiest gynecological cancer to prevent through screening, lifestyle changes and vaccination.

Cervical cancer is the 15th leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Florida, but it is the easiest gynecological cancer to prevent through screening, lifestyle changes and vaccination. Starting in January, which is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the Florida Department of Health in Broward (DOH-Broward) reminds women to visit their provider regularly to be screened with a Pap test. Also, young adults and adolescents should consider getting the vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) from your provider or DOH-Broward. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, a common virus that is spread during sexual activity.

Broward County has higher rates of cervical cancer than the state. In 2014, 87 cases of the cancer were diagnosed in Broward – 47 percent at late stage when it is harder to treat successfully. In 2016, cervical cancer claimed 26 women’s lives in Broward. About 47 percent of Native American women in Florida got a Pap test, a bit lower than the state average of 52 percent, health department figures show.Women can arrange a Pap test through the Seminole Health Department, at 954-962-2009. Also, qualified women who are underinsured and ages 50-64 can get a free Pap test – and follow up doctor visits, if warranted – from the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

Call 954-762-3649 to see if you qualify.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here are easy ways to reduce risk or prevent cervical cancer:• Get HPV vaccine (two or three shots) between ages 9 and 26 to detect the virus. It is recommended for both boys and girls to prevent cancers of the cervix, mouth and throat.

• See your health care provider regularly for a Pap test between ages 21 and 65. The test looks for cell changes on the cervix that may become cancer if not treated. Your doctor can determine how often you need the test, depending on your family history and age. If your results are normal, you may need the test only once every three or five years.

• Don’t smoke.

• Limit the number of sexual partners. The risk of cervical cancer is higher for those who have early sexual activity.

Cervical cancer causes no symptoms in the early stages. In later stages, it can cause abnormal bleeding, vaginal discharge and pain.Tests for specific HPV strains can support earlier diagnosis of cervical cancer. For more information on pap tests visit broward.floridahealth.gov and for more information on HPV visit cdc.gov.

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