January is cervical cancer awareness month.
Cervical cancer prevention can be as basic as getting a vaccination against the HPV virus. While all of the causes of cervical cancer are not clear, we do know that HPV plays a role in causing cervical cancer (as well as other cancers that affect both men and women). Although HPV is very common, most women with HPV never develop cervical cancer. Consequently, other factors, such as life style choices, environment, and chance also contribute to the likelihood of a cervical cancer diagnosis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 79 million Americans have HPV and about 14 million people become newly infected each year. Many people with HPV don’t know that they are infected.
The good news?
- HPV can be prevented with the HPV vaccine, which is offered by most health care providers, and can be taken by both boys and girls.
- Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (Pap tests) and follow-up care.
Early Warning Signs of Cervical Cancer
(The conditions listed below can indicate other health concerns or can have a benign root cause.)
- No symptoms. Cervical cancer often does not present any early warning signs, which increases the importance of having annual Pap tests.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding outside the normal menstrual cycle
- Pain during sex
- Unusual vaginal discharge
A Pap test can detect abnormal cells before they turn into cancer. Because detection of cervical cancer in its early stage significantly improves prognosis, many deaths from cervical cancer can be prevented.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans must cover Pap tests or cervical cancer screening at no cost to the patient.
Steps To Lower Your Risk
- Women get regular Pap tests starting when you become sexually active or at age 21
- Women get the HPV vaccine in your twenties
- Parents make sure that your pre-teen or teenaged girls and boys get the HPV vaccine
- Men, under the age of 22, get the HPV vaccine
- Practice safe sex. Always use a condom. Ask your partners to get tested for HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
- Don’t smoke.
Certain lifestyle habits are often linked to lowered disease risk and contribute to good health in general.
- Eating a well balanced diet (rich in fruits and vegetables)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
- Getting adequate sleep
To learn more, please contact the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County.
HEALTHY RECIPE FOR A NEW YEAR
Delicious in salads or as a condiment
1 red onion, peeled, cut in half, and thinly sliced
¼ cup of rice vinegar
1 tsp. of honey
2 pinches of salt
1 tbsp. of olive oil
In a quart sized or larger bowl, mix together the rice vinegar, honey, and 1 pinch of salt. Stir until the salt and honey dissolve into the vinegar. Set mixture aside.
Warm the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the sliced onions and 1 pinch of salt. Sauté the onions for about 5 minutes on a low heat, stirring once or twice, until they fade a bit in color. Remove the onions fro the heat and add them to the vinegar mixture. (The onions will turn pink.) Cool to room temperature. The pickled onions can either be used right away or stored in a closed container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
2015 Cancer Awareness and Prevention Campaign
Presented by the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County in collaboration with the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency.
The Cancer Resource Centers mission is to improve the quality of life for those in Mendocino County faced with cancer.
Coastal Office: 45040 Calpella Street, Mendocino, CA 95460 | (707) 937-3833
Inland Office: 590 South Dora Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 | (707) 467-3828
Health and Human Services Agency | (707) 472-2333