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Before physicians began using the Pap test in the 1950s, cervical cancer was the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women in the United States. Since that time, the number of deaths from cervical cancer has dropped more than 70 percent. While this progress is commendable, even one death from cervical cancer is too many. This year an estimated 13,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. Let’s change that!

Because of our increased knowledge about the disease and the ability to detect changes in the cervix prior to cancer forming, today invasive cervical cancer is highly preventable. A Pap test is a simple test performed in a physician’s office or clinic and, while not perfect, having this test regularly can be very effective at detecting changes in the cells of the cervix before they become cancerous. Even today some women say they didn’t know the importance of being screened, while others report a lack of health insurance prevented them from getting the exam.

There are so many dedicated physicians, researchers and others in the field of oncology working to find better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent cervical cancer, but this battle requires more than just advances in science. It requires every woman to do her part, by making it a priority to have her annual Pap test. Southern Cancer Center urges all women to speak with their healthcare providers about having regular this regular screening.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, a time set aside specifically to educate women about this disease and encourage them to have a Pap test. So Go Talk About It! The more women educate themselves and each other, the closer we can get to completely erasing this disease from our world.