Posted on Jan 14, 2014 by Mike Peterson
The Pap test has saved the lives of countless women around the world, but when the Pap turned 85 in 2013, this anniversary passed without recognition. What’s more, despite these huge strides forward in early detection and treatment, particularly over the past 40 years, cervical cancer is still the second most deadly women’s cancer globally, and according to the World Health Organization it killed approximately 275,000 women around the world in 2008. For this reason, January has been established in the U.S.A. as National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and in 2014 across the UK and Europe, January 19 to 25 have been named Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
On a personal note, cervical cancer is a pretty important issue in this blogger’s family, since it claimed my mother-in-law’s life several years ago. (For anyone thinking they would like to get rid of their mother-in-law, trust me: dying of cancer is not a death you would wish on even your worst enemy). Considering the pain and suffering she endured before her death, as well as the agony of dealing with her loss that it caused the family, the value of testing and regular check-ups cannot be overstated. Testing is a straightforward process, and can mean add many, many years to a cancer victim’s life.
So if you are a woman, or happen to know one (or several, like most of us do) then take the time to get them interested enough in their own well-being to do a cervical cancer screening. Getting the courage to simply go is the hardest part, since a basic Pap test is pretty simple, learn more about it here.
Below, learn what you can do to protect yourself (if you are a woman), and what you can do to make others aware of what they need to reduce their risk of cervical cancer.
Get Screened Yourself
Obviously this is the most important step toward reducing your own likelihood of spread of cancer from the cervix. The CDC recommends that all women aged 21 to 65 should be screened for cervical cancer and HPV every three to five years. The test can usually be performed at your local women’s clinic or by your personal OB-GYN, and it only takes a few minutes. Plus, in many places it’s free or at heavily least government-subsidized, so there is no reason not to.
Then, be sure to mention it to talk to others and ask them how long it’s been since their last screening. It might be an awkward conversation at first, but you could save their life.
Take a Friend Along
While most of your friends or family probably wouldn’t appreciate an audience for their actual screening, taking one or several along for the “adventure”, and all getting screened together is a good way to generate some positive peer pressure toward getting tested. Afterward you can all reward yourselves by going out for lunch or dinner (just be sure to find a topic other than the screening to talk about).
This goes for guys, too. Offering to take your wife, sister or mom for a screening is a great way to show you care about them. Plus, there is a pretty slim chance they will actually ask you to accompany them, and you accomplish the task of getting them checked with very little effort on your part (win, win).
Give the Gift of Support
According to a recent article by Cancer Prevention Research, cervical cancer still remains one of the most prolific and deadliest cancers for women despite its very easy testing and treatment, with more than half a million new cases detected each year and countless that go undetected. Cervical cancer’s effects are especially devastating in developing countries such as in Central America and Africa.
To help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer, hopefully to a future rate of zero, consider offering financial support to a local or international women’s cancer charity or research foundation. Some that are particularly focused on cervical and gynecological cancers:
The Eve Appeal provides news and information about women’s cancer; funds and promotes research; and hosts and supports awareness and fundraising events in the UK.
Cervical Cancer Action is a global advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness about and increasing testing for cervical cancer in places that need it the most, namely developing nations. The group hosts webinars and coordinates on-the-ground advocacy events to motivate doctors, governments and the public to take action against the disease.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust offers support to victims, hosts fundraisers, sponsors research and provides a forum for cervical cancer-related information in the UK and Europe.
The Foundation For Women’s Cancer is dedicated to providing resources for gynecological cancers, including testing and treatment, research for a cure, and awareness and education.
WACC - Women Against Cervical Cancer serves to unite numerous cervical cancer-fighting entities from around the world in one central location. WACC hosts seminars, workshops and exhibitions in locations throughout the globe to increase awareness and advocacy for cervical cancer testing and research.
The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation is bringing awareness and testing to Australia and surrounding areas of the Asian Pacific, with advocacy events, HPV vaccinations and fundraising. The Foundation even accepts donations that go directly to providing testing for women in developing countries, with a particular focus on helping younger women.