VA Maryland Health Care System Encourages A Cervical Cancer Screening Month Resolution

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The VA Maryland Health Care System encourages all women veterans enrolled for VA health care to get tested for 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.

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.

More than 90 percent of women can survive cervical cancer when it's localized and caught early," says Dr. Catherine Staropoli," chief of Women's Health for the VA Maryland Health Care System.

A Cervical Cancer Screening Month Resolution
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 pap smear screening. 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.
Other risk factors for cervical cancer include:

  •     Chronic Human Papilloma Virus infection
  •     Having many sexual partners
  •     Having first sexual intercourse at a young age
  •     Smoking cigarettes
  •     Having a weakened immune system

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 4981. At the VA Maryland Health Care System’s Women’s Clinic, comprehensive primary, mental health and specialty 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.gov.

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