January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and the Cancer Prevention in Action Program (CPiA) wants you to know there are two ways to prevent cervical cancer — cervical cancer screening and vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Cervical cancer screening begins at age 21 and is covered under most health plans. Even so, about 22% of insured women haven’t been screened. One key reason is women are unable to afford to take time away from work.
HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer and causes several other cancers. The HPV vaccine prevents about 90% of HPV-related cancers, including cervical. The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls beginning at age 9 and young adults through age 26. Unfortunately, nearly half of adolescents in New York State are not getting the vaccine as recommended.
CPia works to increase both cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination rates in our communities. Our program helps employers develop a paid time off for cancer screening benefit allowing employees time off for screenings such as cervical, breast and colon cancers without having to use accrued leave or sick time. Studies have shown this policy is cost effective and has benefits to the employers, such as a healthier and more productive workforce; lower direct medical, worker compensation and disability costs, and less cost associated with recruitment and training of new workers.
CPiA also provided education about the importance of the HPV vaccine to health care providers, dental professionals, parents and young adults. Since the HPV vaccine has been in use, HPV-related cancers have dropped 71% among young adult women.
Through regular screening and HPV vaccination we can reduce, and possibly eliminate, cervical cancer. To learn more about the CPiA Program, which is supported with funds from the State of New York, please contact us at 315-798-5483.
— Phyllis D. Ellis, Oneida County director of health, Utica.