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Cervical Cancer Awareness month brings up discussion of preventative measures

Samantha Morrill

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month, and although rates are down overall in the Appalachian region, health officials say numbers are still too high.

Dr. Rebecca Todd is an OBGYN with the University of Kentucky and is affiliated with Saint Claire HealthCare. She said cervical cancer is still far too common when considering how preventable it is.

“Cervical cancer still affects a lot of people, there’s almost 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer each year in the United States and about 4,000 women will still die from this disease each year,” said Todd. “That is particularly distressing because the main cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus.”

According to the National Library of Medicine, the incidence of cervical cancer is 23 percent higher in Appalachian counties when compared with non-Appalachian areas.

Todd said it is very easy to screen and test for this virus and preventative options are available for those who want to be protected. She also added that regular testing is essential to catching cervical cancer early, but it’s safer to go longer between tests.

“There are also people who, in the past, used to get a pap smear every single year, and are just really scared about this idea of spacing the pap smear to every three to five years,” said Todd. “And I hear that you know, no one wants to get cancer, but I want to reassure you that the new pap tests, they’re really good they’re really sensitive, and trust me if we recommend that you can go three to five years then were doing that from a lot of scientific knowledge and it is safe to do so.”

Todd added that there are alternatives for those who have trauma and do not wish to undergo a pelvic exam in office and that pap smears are no longer required to receive a birth control prescription.