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Cervical Cancer Is One You Don't Have To Get

Cancer. It's a word people fear and a diagnosis that often inspires fatalism. However, as World Cancer Day raises awareness about the disease on Wed., Feb. 4, the Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (LCCCP) wants people to know that cervical cancer can easily be avoid or catch early enough to beat.

Prevent it by having a Pap test on a regular basis and getting the HPV vaccine. The CDC unequivocally states "No woman should ever die from cervical cancer." Regular Pap tests can detect the cancer early and are covered under ACA. And like breast cancer, cervical cancer screenings are available through the NBCCEDP and through the LBCHP in Louisiana at 888-599-1073 or www.lbchp.org.

Almost every adult in the U.S. will get the human papillomavirus at some point, with the CDC estimating 79 million American are currently infected. Most of the time, it does no harm, but it can cause genital warts and a number of cancers in both men and women, including 99 percent of cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine, one of only two existing cancer vaccines, can prevent all of those diseases and is administered to boys and girls starting at age 11 or 12, when it can generate its best immune response for the future and be administered long before any exposure to the virus.

Older people, including men up to age 21 (or 26, if gay, bisexual or have compromised immune system) and women up to age 26 are also eligible. Most private health insurance plans now cover the HPV vaccine at no out-of-pocket cost because of ACA, while low-income children may be eligible for it through the federal Vaccines for Children Program (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/index.html).