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FOR RELEASE: January 10 , 2008
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Women Encouraged to Get Tested for Cervical Cancer

A relatively simple medical test has the potential to save the lives of many Oklahoma women. During January, National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is encouraging all women who have never had a Pap test, and those who have not had a Pap test in five or more years, to contact their healthcare provider and schedule a Pap test as soon as possible.

“The good news is that cervical cancer is almost totally preventable. Pre-cancerous stages can be detected and treated during routine screenings with Pap tests,” said Secretary of Health and Commissioner of Health Dr. Mike Crutcher. “Women can also protect themselves by getting the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccination. This vaccination is highly effective in preventing the viral infection that causes most cervical cancers. It is recommended for women up to age 26 and works best for those who are vaccinated before they become sexually active.”

The risk factors for cervical cancer include multiple sex partners, sex at an early age, having a sex partner who has multiple sex partners, and having HPV infection. This year in Oklahoma, approximately 160 women will be diagnosed and 50 to 60 women will die from cervical cancer. Oklahoma ranks 12th in the nation for cervical cancer deaths.

The OSDH Take Charge! Program and your local county health department are offering free Pap tests to Oklahoma women that meet the following guidelines:

  • 19 to 64 years of age
  • Not had a Pap test in five years or more
  • Not covered by insurance, Medicare B, Medicaid, or have a high unmet insurance deductible
  • Low income (185 percent of poverty level)

To see if you qualify for the program and to schedule an appointment, call your local county health department or call toll-free 1-888-669-5934.

You may also visit the following Web site to find the contact information for the county health department nearest you: http://www.health.state.ok.us/phone/Chdphone.html.

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