Nearly 12,000 American women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer during 2016, but you can protect yourself against this potentially fatal disease. The Health Department urges all women ages 21 and older to speak with their physician or health care provider about cervical cancer screening.
Thanks to available screening techniques and follow-up, cervical cancer is easily preventable and treatable when detected early. Young girls (ages 11 and older), and women should also ask their physicians about vaccines that are highly effective against human papillomavirus. HPV is the cause of most cervical cancers.
Under certain conditions, cervical cancer forms in the lower, narrow end of the uterus. It grows slowly over time, but can eventually attack nearby tissue with potentially devastating effects.
A Pap test can detect cervical cancers before they impact nearby tissue. During a Pap test, cells are taken from the cervix and analyzed under the microscope for abnormalities. Treatment can begin immediately if cancerous growth is identified.
The National Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says half of all cervical cancers occur in women who have never had routine Pap testing. Noticeable symptoms are rare during the early stages of cervical cancer development, which makes Pap testing especially important.
The Will County Community Health Center (1106 Neal Avenue in Joliet), provides Pap testing by appointment. You can schedule appointments by visiting the Community Health Center pages at www.willcountyhealth.org. You can also schedule an appointment by calling 815-727-8670.
The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), provides free cervical cancer screenings to uninsured and under-insured Illinois women between the ages of 35 and 64, regardless of income. Call 1-888-522-1282 for more information.