Women urged to get screened for
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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness
SPRINGFIELD -- Pap
tests save lives. Women can greatly increase their chances of
survival when diagnosed with cervical cancer if they catch the
disease in its early stages. The key to early diagnosis for this
highly curable disease is regular screenings. So, start your new
year off right and schedule your Pap test.
"Being diagnosed with cervical cancer
does not have to be a death sentence," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker,
state public health director. "I encourage women to get screened,
know the risk factors of cervical cancer and be your own best health
an estimated 660 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in
2005 and 200 will die. Racial disparities continue to show a
disturbing trend. Statistics show that Hispanic and African-American
women in Illinois have nearly twice the incidence rate of cervical
cancer as white women.
Cervical cancer, which is almost
always caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, was once the No. 1
cause of death from cancer in women. The Pap test, introduced in the
1950s, is credited with reducing the death rate for cervical cancer
by 70 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control
recommends that once a woman has had three consecutive negative Pap
test results within a five-year period, the woman may get screened
every three years. However, if she falls within the high-risk group,
she should get screened annually.
factors which cause women to be in the high-risk category include:
- A history of multiple sex
partners or a change in sex partners.
- HIV infection or a weakened
- A history of cervical cancer or
- Diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic
sex hormone prescribed to women during the 1950s-'70s to prevent
miscarriage and other problems.
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The Office of Women's Health offers
help to low-income women through the Illinois Breast and Cervical
Cancer Program, which offers free breast and cervical cancer
screenings to women between the ages of 35 and 64 who have limited
incomes and no health insurance. Women should call the toll-free
Women's Health Line at 1 (888) 522-1282 or the TTY number for
hearing-impaired, 1 (800) 547-0466.
This year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich
signed a law that will go a long way to address cervical cancer and
the barriers women face in getting screened for cervical cancer. The
law created the Cervical Cancer Elimination Task Force, which is
charged with developing strategies to ensure women in Illinois get
their Pap tests. Dr. Whitaker recently appointed the task force
members, which include physicians, health professionals and
community-based advocacy groups. Members of the General Assembly and
representatives from state agencies serve as ex-officio members.
The Cervical Cancer Elimination Task
Force will produce its first of several reports to the governor and
the General Assembly by April 1. The report will provide information
and a prevention plan with recommendations to reduce the occurrence
of cervical cancer.
Department of Public Health]