HOUSTON – January is cervical cancer awareness month.
For years, deaths from cervical cancer were on a decline.
Now, a study shows the rates of advanced cervical cancer are growing again in a group of women who would least expect it.
The study from UCLA says more 30 to 34-year-old women are being diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. Plus, women in their 40s and 50s are skipping exams, too.
If cost is a barrier, there are free and low-cost exams available across the Houston area:
- Pro Salud
- Legacy Community Health
- The Rose
- San Jose Clinic
- Avenue 360
- Access Health (Fort Bend and Waller counties)
- Harris County residents can also call 832-927-7350 to get an appointment and/or locate mobile clinics that provide free exams.
“If you have had normal pap smears and have a history of having had normal pap smears, you can go (depending on your age) between every three and five years without another pap exam, and the reason for that is because cervical cancer is fairly slow growing,” explained Dr. Erika Brown, Harris County Public Health Authority. “Even if we do detect something, let’s say three years down the line, again, we can still cure it.”
If there’s cancer detected, doctors may recommend surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and/or immunotherapy.
If it’s detected early, cervical cancer is over 90% survivable five years out. More than 90% of cervical cancers are entirely preventable with the HPV vaccine.
“If we start in our younger children with getting them vaccinated, the hope is that we can eradicate most of the cervical cancer down the line,” Dr. Brown said.