January is Cervical Cancer Month. Here’s your reminder to schedule your cervical cancer screening test. As uncomfortable as you may feel with your feet up in the stirrups, and the speculum inserted in your private parts (yuck!) I strongly urge you to take a few extra minutes and request another test too.
It’s the HPV Test. If you’re 30 or older, the HPV Test is essential to ensure that the two strains of human papillomavirus (or HPV) that cause cervical cancer are detected.
Most people get HPV sometime in their life. The HPV that causes cervical cancer and genital warts is passed by skin-to-skin contact with the genital area. You do not have to have intercourse to get it: any sort of mutual sexual activity can expose you to HPV. Black women in their middle and senior years have the highest incidence of cervical cancer. And just because you are in a monogamous relationship, you are not immune from having HPV.
Just like a cold virus, HPV is usually cleared on its own in a short time. But if HPV does not go away, cervical cancer can develop. But unlike a cold virus, HPV usually has no obvious symptoms. So it takes diligent attention to regular cervical health screenings to make sure HPV is found early.
The HPV Test looks for HPV, the virus that causes abnormal cell changes. the test can be performed from the same sample as your liquid based Pap or can be collected in a separate tube at the time of your Pap test. It is the ideal companion to your cervical health regiment. By having both the Pap and HPV tests, you and your doctor can monitor any cellular changes in your cervix and the presence of HPV.
Believe me my sistahs, there are far too many women who have their Pap Test every year religiously and still their cervical cancer goes undetected. Even more tragic, are the many women who haven’t had any cervical cancer screening or do so infrequently. Are you one of these women?
Cervical cancer is 100% preventable! But it is up to you to take action. Educate yourself! Request the HPV Test! Remind all the women in your life to get their screening annually. To learn the guidelines about getting the HPV Test and take a tutorial on cervical cancer, visit the cervical cancer page on the WeSpeakLoudly website.
Two additional resources that I highly recommend are Tamika & Friends featuring the courageous journey of cervical cancer survivor Tamika Felder, and the digene HPV Test with detailed information from the developer of the HPV Test.