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Health department campaigns against cervical cancer

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Department of Health and the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program is reminding women of the importance of cervical cancer screenings. January is designated as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. 

The cancer is highly preventable because of the availability of screening tests and a vaccine to prevent HPV (human papillomavirus) infections, which cause 75 percent of cervical cancers in the U.S.

Nearly 4,000 women in America will die this year from cervical cancer. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. Early detection makes cervical cancer highly treatable and is associated with long survival and a good quality of life.

A simple, outpatient screening known as a Pap test can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops, often in a curable stage. Pap tests are the first line of defense against cervical cancer and are recommended for women every three years after the age of 21.

To improve your cervical and overall health, get 30 minutes of daily exercise, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, drink water, limit salt intake and get vaccinated for HPV.

The CDC recommends a three-dose series of HPV vaccine for females 11 to 12 years old and those who have not received the series or not completed all three doses; it can be given up to the age of 26 years.

If you are a McHenry County woman between the ages of 35 and 64 without health insurance, contact the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program at 815-334-0232, at the health department’s Crystal Lake facility, to schedule an appointment.

For information about HPV, visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/hpv.

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