January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and American Samoa Community Cancer Coalition wants you to join our mission to help the people of American Samoa fight cancer.
HPV (human papillomavirus) is one of the most common infections that spreads through sexual activity. There are many people who have HPV, but they don’t know they are infected. HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer. In American Samoa, cancer is the second leading cause of death, breast and cervical cancer being the primary causes of death among women. “Our women get screened way too late,” states Rochelle Reid, ASCCC Chair, “and we need to make changes to our lifestyle, become healthy, and get screened!”
The good news?
· The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
· Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap smears) and follow up care.
In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness month, American Samoa Community Cancer Coalition encourages:
· Women to start getting regular Pap smears at age 21
· Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12.
· Avoid infection with HPV by practicing safer sex
· Don’t smoke, or if you do smoke quit.
Teens and young adults need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.
Precancerous conditions of the cervix usually don’t cause symptoms, and are not detected unless a woman has a pelvic exam and a Pap test. We can prevent cervical cancer if we get screened. Please contact the Breast & Cervical Program at 633-2135 for more information about screening, or contact your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment. More information for the months activity will be posted at website: http://asccancercoalition.org/ and on Facebook.
By making these small steps you can keep yourself safe and healthy.
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