North Central Health District

COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

Hancock County Health Department Encourages Residents to Fight Against Cervical Cancer

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In honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month, Hancock County Health Department and Hancock Health Improvement Partnership will give a presentation on cervical cancer Jan. 11, 4 p.m. at Hancock County Library, 8794 East Broad Street in Sparta. The presentation will cover how women can reduce their risk of cervical cancer and the early detection services available through the health department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.

“We can fight against cervical cancer in our community, but the first step is educating people on the importance of early detection,” said Health Educator Julia Vinton. “Early detection helps prevent deaths. With regular screenings, women can increase their chance to find cancer early, receive treatment sooner and have a positive impact on their life expectancy.”

Nearly every case of cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be passed from person to person through sexual contact. HPV is a group of over 150 viruses that is so common that nearly 80 million people are infected in the United States. In most cases, HPV does not show any symptoms and goes away after some time, causing no adverse effects on a person’s health. When the virus does not go away, it can lead to problems like genital warts and cancer.

One of the easiest steps a person can take to fight cervical cancer is getting vaccinated against HPV. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the HPV vaccine for young women through age 26 and young men through age 21. Kids aged 11-12 years old should get two HPV shots six to 12 months apart. Children over 14 years old need three shots given over the course of six months. Anyone in need of the HPV vaccine should talk to their healthcare provider about getting it as soon as possible. The HPV vaccine is available at Hancock County Health Department and other health departments in North Central Health District’s 13-county area.

In addition to HPV, other cervical cancer risk factors include:

  • Having HIV or another condition that weakens the immune system
  • Smoking
  • Having several sexual partners
  • Giving birth to three or more children
  • Using birth control pills for an extended period (five or more years)

For more information on cervical cancer, visit cdc.gov/cancer/cervical. To learn more about the health department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, visit NCHD52.org/BCCP.

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