Every year, approximately 13,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,000 American women die of the disease.
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among women. In the U.S., Latinas and African-American women are at higher risk for developing and dying of cervical cancer because they are less likely to have access to early screening and treatment.
“The good news is that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers out there,” said Kai Tao, Vice President of Clinical Operations. “When caught early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent.”
“Cervical cancer takes many years to develop, so regular Pap tests can help detect abnormal cells early enough to prevent the disease. HPV vaccination before sexual activity begins and regular Pap tests are the best ways to protect yourself against cervical cancer”, added Tao.
Last year, Planned Parenthood health centers provided nearly one million Pap tests, which identified about 93,000 women who may be at risk of developing cervical cancer. We have 17 health centers in Illinois that offer routine cervical cancer screenings and the HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer. Last year alone, we provided 10,132 Pap tests and 1,781 HPV tests to women across Illinois.
The CDC recommends that girls 11- to-12-years-old get the HPV vaccine. The best way to protect young women from cervical cancer is to make sure they get vaccinated before they are at risk of infection, in addition to routine cervical cancer screening. Vaccination before a person is at risk for HPV infection means vaccination must occur before sexual intimacy. Vaccination must occur before skin to skin contact; sexual intercourse is not necessary for exposure and infection.
Planned Parenthood’s guidelines call for initial Pap screening at age 21; screening every two years for women aged 21–29; and screening every three years for women aged 30 or older who have had three consecutive normal Pap tests and no history of certain abnormalities.
Read these incredible stories about other women's battles with cervical cancer.
During college, I couldn’t afford annual visits at my OB/GYN office. I mentioned this to a friend and she suggested I visit Planned Parenthood for a free exam. After some hesitation I went. I thank God that I did. During my visit they found that I had the first signs of cervical cancer. I was 19 and terrified, but the staff at Planned Parenthood was supportive and understanding. One doctor in particular was amazing, and I wish I could find her and thank her personally. She went out of her way to call and check up on me once a week until I had recovered completely from the procedure that got rid of the cancerous cells.
Six years later I’m healthy and still so grateful for the excellent and compassionate care I received at Planned Parenthood. I am studying to be a nurse now. When I graduate, I plan to volunteer at Planned Parenthood so I can help women receive the medical care that they deserve.
At 22, I was diagnosed with abnormal cell growth on my cervix wall. Thankfully the cells were caught before developing into cancer. A procedure was performed to remove the abnormal cells and a maintenance program was followed to ensure no new growth had occurred. As a young person, I didn’t have insurance and I sure as heck would never have scheduled an annual exam on my own. Without Planned Parenthood I may have died or lost my ability to have children in the future, among many other tragic consequences of a cervical cancer diagnosis. Aside from these personal effects, as an uninsured student I would have been a huge financial burden to my family and my community.
Planned Parenthood saved my life and the life of my future children and continues to save young women and men who face unique risks associated with the complexities of sexual health. Thank you Planned Parenthood!! I will defend you and support you all my life!
As the region’s most trusted provider of women’s health care, many women depend on Planned Parenthood of Illinois for quality, affordable health care.
Call 1-800-230-PLAN today to schedule an appointment or Click Here.
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