National Cervical Health Awareness Month
Featured Health Observance. The US Congress has designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month to increase public health education around cervical cancer and the importance of prevention and early detection. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 11,000 cases of invasive cervical cancer were diagnosed in the United States during 2008. Moreover, researchers estimate that non-invasive cervical cancer (also called carcinoma in situ) is about 4 times more common than invasive cervical cancer. Unfortunately, nearly 4,000 women died from cervical cancer in the United States during the same period.
Once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women, the increased use of the Pap test (the screening procedure that identifies changes in the cervix before cancer develops) provides doctors the best chances to cure the disease. While the death rate from cervical cancer continues to decline yearly, disparities exist in the survival rates among women of different ethnicities. Cervical cancer occurs most often in Hispanic women with a prevalence rate over twice that in non-Hispanic white women. This is followed by African-American women who develop this cancer about 50% more often than non-Hispanic white women. So we take the month of January to highlight the importance of Recommended Preventive Health Screenings for Women, specifically the Pap test, for preventing cancer and maintaining health.