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FOR RELEASE: January 6, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Health Officials Encourage Women to Test for Cervical Cancer

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) encourages all women who have never had a Pap test, and those who have not had a Pap test in several years, to contact their healthcare provider and schedule a Pap test today. It can help save your life, according to health officials.

With routine screening with Pap smears, cervical cancer is almost totally preventable because pre-cancerous conditions are detected and treated. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is ranked 9th in the nation for cervical cancer deaths and each year in Oklahoma, 500 women are diagnosed, and approximately 65 women die from cervical cancer.

The OSDH recommends:

  • An annual pelvic exam and regular pap test for all women beginning about three years after first sexual activity, or 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.
  • If you have certain risk factors like diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth, HIV infection, weakened immune system, or chronic steroid use, continue to have yearly screening.

The OSDH Take Charge! Program is offering a free Pap smear to Oklahoma women that meet the following guidelines:

  • 35 to 64 years of age,
  • not had a Pap test in 5 years or more,
  • not covered by insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or have a high unmet deductible, and
  • low income.

To see if you qualify for the program and to schedule an appointment, call your local county health department. Visit this Web site to locate the contact information for the health department nearest you at http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cds/breastcervical.html.

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