Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for development of cervical cancer,” says Dr. Catherine A. Staropoli, FACP, chief of Women’s Health for the VA Maryland
(PRWEB) January 12, 2014
Attention all women: You may want to consider scheduling a pap smear as part of your New Year’s resolutions. January is Cervical Cancer Screening Month. A pap smear can find abnormal cells that may indicate cervical cancer. Screening for cervical cancer using the pap test has decreased the number of new cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths due to cervical cancer since 1950.
The VA Maryland Health Care System encourages all women Veterans enrolled for VA health care to get tested for cervical cancer. Women aged 21 to 65, as well as those at high risk, are candidates for a cervical pap smear screening every one to three years. Detecting cervical cancer in its earliest stages greatly improves survival rates. More than 90 percent of women can survive cervical cancer when it is localized and caught early. “Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for development of cervical cancer. New guidelines for screening were released in 2013 involving HPV testing,” says Dr. Catherine A. Staropoli, FACP, chief of Women’s Health for the VA Maryland Health Care System.
Other risk factors for cervical cancer include:
- Giving birth to many children.
- Having many sexual partners.
- Having first sexual intercourse at a young age.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Using oral contraceptives ("the Pill").
- Having a weakened immune system.
- All women are at risk for cervical cancer, but it occurs most often in women over age 30.
Here are some ways to reduce cervical cancer risk:
- Limit the number of sexual partners and use condoms or diaphragms every time you have sex.
- Don’t smoke.
- Get regular pap smears to detect any precancerous cells.
- If you are under 26, consider the HPV vaccination.
The good news:
- It is the easiest gynecological cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and follow up.
- It is highly treatable when found early.
Early detection can be lifesaving. For more information on cervical cancer or to schedule a pap smear, Veterans should contact the Women Veterans Clinic at 1-800-463-6295, extension 5090 or 5094. At the VA Maryland Health Care System’s Women’s Clinic, comprehensive primary, mental health and specialty health care services are available.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Catherine A. Staropoli, FACP, chief of Women’s Health for the VA Maryland Health Care System, is available as a subject matter expert on cervical cancer. Zelda McCormick, the Women’s Health program manager, can speak about issues pertaining to the Women Veterans Health program. For more information or to speak with either Dr. Staropoli, or Ms. McCormick, please contact Rosalia Scalia, Public & Community Relations, VA Maryland Health Care System, at (410) 605-7464, or via e-mail at rosalia.scalia(at)va(dot)gov.
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The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and outpatient care to veterans at two medical centers, one rehabilitation & extended care center and five outpatient clinics located throughout the state. More than 52,000 veterans from various generations receive care from VAMHCS annually. Nationally recognized for its state-of-the-art technology and quality patient care, VAMHCS is proud of its reputation as a leader in veterans’ health care, research and education. It costs nothing for Veterans to enroll for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System and it could be one of the more important things a Veteran can do. For information about VA health care eligibility and enrollment or how to apply for a VA medical care hardship to avoid future copayments for VA health care, interested Veterans are urged to call the Enrollment Center for the VA Maryland Health Care System, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-463-6295, ext. 7324 or visit http://www.maryland.va.gov.