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FOR RELEASE: January 9, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Health Officials Encourage Women to Get Pap Tests

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The Oklahoma State Department of Health encourages all women who have never had a Pap test and those who have not had a Pap test in several years to call your healthcare provider and schedule your Pap test today.

Cervical cancer is almost 100 percent preventable, yet Oklahoma is ranked 10th in the nation for cervical cancer deaths. Each year, 200 Oklahoma women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Approximately 65 Oklahoma women die each year from cervical cancer. These statistics indicate that cervical cancer is a major health threat for Oklahoma women who do not have regular physical exams that include a Pap test and a pelvic examination.

The American Cancer Society recommends:

  • An annual pelvic exam and regular Pap test for all women about three years after having vaginal intercourse but not later than 21 years of age.
  • Beginning at age 30, women who have received three or more normal Pap tests in a row may get screened every two to three years.
  • Women over the age of 70 who have had three or more normal Pap tests and no abnormal Pap test result in the last 10 years may choose to stop having cervical cancer screening.
  • Women who have had a total hysterectomy may choose to stop having cervical cancer screening, unless the hysterectomy was treatment for cervical cancer or pre-cancer; then, they should follow their healthcare providers guidelines.
  • If, however, you have certain risk factors like diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth, HIV infection, weakened immune system, or chronic steroid use, continue to get screening yearly.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Take Charge! program is offering a free Pap smear to women between the ages of 35-64, who have no insurance and low income. To see if you qualify for the program and to schedule an appointment, call your local county health department or visit this Web site: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cds/breastcervical.html.

For more information about early detection and prevention of cervical cancer call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER or the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.

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