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It's January: Help Prevent Cervical Cancer

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January is National Cervical Cancer Month and that means we should encourage ourselves, friends and family, to visit a gynecologist and take steps towards preventing the second most common cancer in women around the world.

The American Cancer Society estimated in 2009 that over 11 thousand women would be diagnosed with the cancer and just over 4,000 would die from it.

The cancer is a result of recurring infections with certain types of HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection that 75 percent of adults will contract at some point in their lifetime. Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI. The virus infects individuals through the skin and mucous membranes -- there are multiple strains of the HPV virus that can affect both men and women. Often individuals can become infected with HPV and are unaware that they've contracted the STI. The infections that do not go away without treatment can lead to the cancer.

Pap smears are encouraged for cervical cancer screening. Pap smears look for signs of cervical cancer namely, they detect abnormal cells in the cervix. Catching the cells early on allows them to be removed before they become cancerous. The HPV Vaccine is used to protect against certain types of cervical cancer. The vaccine is recommended for young girls and is approved up to age 26. Despite getting the vaccine, pap smear screenings are still encouraged in detecting certain types of cervical cancer that the vaccine does not prevent against.

In honor of January, campaigns are popping up to encourage and spread awareness of cervical cancer prevention. The Pearl of Wisdom Campaign, for example, launched a "Take the Pearl Pledge" initiative, which pushes women to schedule their annual gynecologic examination, wear a Pearl of Wisdom in support of the cause and tell 5 friends to do the same.

In the midst of the new year, when we're all focused on making resolutions, let's begin with some of the basics: eating right, taking care of your body and mental health, and committing to preventative healthcare that protects our sexual well-being. Schedule your gyno appointment, ask your health care professional about the HPV vaccine and tell your daughters, sisters, and partners about how we can help prevent cervical cancer from being detrimental to our communities.

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EmpowHER Guest

You will like reading the award- winning book “The HPV Vaccine Controversy: Sex, Cancer, God and Politics authored by Shobha S. Krishnan, M.D, Barnard college, Columbia University. The book is written without the influence of any pharmaceutical companies or special interest groups. It is available at amazon.com and Barnes and Noble .com. You can also get it through your local library. The book educates both professionals and the public about HPV infections, the diseases they cause and the role/ controversies surrounding the new vaccines. The book has been chosen by The American Journal of Nursing (AJN) as one of the most valuable books of 2009 and is the recipient of The Book of The Year 2009 Award. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, June 17th 2009) calls the book superb and a terrific contribution to the field. Website: http://www.thehpvbook.com/

January 7, 2010 - 7:39pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon - Thanks for letting us know about the HPV book. Would you mind sharing with us why you were aware of this book, and your interest in the HPV vaccine controversy? Do you have any additional suggestions on ways people can educate themselves on this topic? The more we know, the more we can help ourselves.

January 8, 2010 - 6:23pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Great information, Nina. I really like the positive nature of the "Pearl of Wisdom" campaign. More information about cervical cancer can also be found here:


January 6, 2010 - 6:29pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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