Modified: January 10, 2018 2:59pm
From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein
Date: January 10, 2018
CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov
Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925
Cancer Services Program Answers Need for Cervical Cancer Screening
Cost Should Not Be Barrier to Life-Saving Cancer Screening
ERIE COUNTY, NY—January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a good time to remind women of the importance of getting screened for cervical cancer, and that free screening is available for uninsured/underinsured women through the Erie County Cancer Services Program (“CSP”).
“Our program can help close the screening gap for women without insurance,” said Michelle Wysocki, CSP Director. “According to the most recent New York State data (2014), about 65% of women without insurance have had a Pap test within the past three years, compared to roughly 85% of women with health insurance.”
Cervical cancer screening with a Pap test or a combination of a Pap test and high-risk human papilloma virus (hrHPV) test is the key to prevention and survival. The CSP offers these tests to uninsured/underinsured women, ages 40 and older. The CSP also provides free breast and colorectal cancer screening to eligible New York State residents.
“Cervical cancer is most often found in women who have never had a Pap test or who have not had a test in the past five years, so it is especially important for these women to get screened. We encourage women not to delay their screening. Cost should not be a barrier to life-saving cancer screening,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. Women can talk to their healthcare provider or call the Cancer Services Program
Unlike many other cancers, cervical cancer can be prevented. Screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer by finding the cells that lead to cancer. Those cells can be removed before cancer starts.
In addition, most cervical cancers are caused by the human papilloma virus, or HPV. Vaccination against HPV can also prevent cervical cancer.
“It is important for parents, pediatricians and primary care physicians to promote the HPV vaccination. Both females and males ages 11 - 26 years should be immunized with the HPV vaccine. Fewer than half of vaccine-eligible females have completed the series. HPV is a preventable disease that causes several types of cancer, including throat cancer in males and females. The HPV vaccine is very safe and effective. Increasing HPV vaccine uptake is a priority," said Burstein.
“As cervical cancer in its early stages does not usually have symptoms, regular screening is vital to an early diagnosis,” added Wysocki. “Screening can find cancer early, when treatment may be most effective.”
Some women are at higher risk for cervical cancer. Women who smoke are about twice as likely to develop cervical cancer compared to non-smokers. Cervical cancer is more often diagnosed in women over the age of 30.
To contact the Erie County Cancer Services Program, call (716) 858-7376.
For more information about risk factors for cervical cancer, visit www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/cervical/ .
For information about insurance options, visit the New York State of Health: The Official Health Plan Marketplace at info.nystateofhealth.ny.gov/ or call 1-855-355-5777.
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