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FOR RELEASE: January 9, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is using this health awareness event to urge all women who have not had a Pap test in five or more years and those who have never had a Pap test to contact their healthcare provider and schedule a Pap test today.
Nationally, 9,710 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and 3,700 women will die from it. Oklahoma ranks 10th in the nation for cervical cancer diagnoses, and 11th in the nation for cervical cancer deaths. Each year in Oklahoma, 130 women are diagnosed and approximately 50 to 60 women die from cervical cancer.

“It is important to know and understand the risk factors associated with cervical cancer,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include the following:

  • Multiple sex partners
  • Sex at an early age
  • Sex partner that has had multiple sex partners
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection

In June 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Gardasil, a
new vaccine designed to prevent infection from HPV. The vaccine protects against four types of HPV. Two of these types, 16 and 18, can cause cervical cancer, while the other two types, 6 and 11, can cause genital warts. Altogether, these four types of HPV cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. The vaccine is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls and can be given from the ages of 9 to 26.
“Cervical cancer is almost totally preventable. Pre-cancerous stages are detected and treated during routine screenings with Pap tests,” said Crutcher. “A woman can also protect herself by getting vaccinated against HPV.”

The OSDH recommends the following cervical cancer screening activities:

  • An annual pelvic exam and regular Pap test for all women starting about three years after first sexual activity, or no later than 21 years of age. This is necessary even if you have received the HPV vaccination.
  • Starting at age 30, women who have had 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 Pap tests.
  • Women who have had a total hysterectomy may choose to stop having Pap tests, unless the hysterectomy was treatment for cervical cancer or pre-cancer.
  • If you have risk factors, such as diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth, HIV infection, weakened immune system, or chronic steroid use, continue to have yearly Pap tests.

One OSDH program that provides no-cost Pap tests to Oklahoma women is the Take Charge! program. Call 1-888-669-5934 to see if you qualify for the program and to schedule an appointment. In addition, local county health departments may provide no-cost Pap tests. Contact your local county health department for more information or visit this Web site to locate the county health department nearest you: http://www.health.state.ok.us/phone/Chdphone.html.


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