National Cervical Health Awareness Month
January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month and Pocahontas Memorial Hospital wants to remind women about the importance of regular lifesaving screenings and vaccines.
Each year in the United States approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Even though cervical cancer is highly preventable, about 4,200 women die from the disease annually. The numbers are much higher on a global scale. Approximately 80% of deaths from cervical cancer occur in developing countries. In both the United States and around the world, the disease disproportionately impacts poor women. Cervical cancer tends to occur more among women under the age of 50.
The most common cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. Most people with HPV do not even know they have it, because they never have symptoms or problems. Usually the body’s immune system will fight off the infection and it will go away on its own.
However, if the HPV infection does not go away and it is left untreated, cervical cancer may develop. Women who smoke, have HIV or other autoimmune deficiencies, have used birth control pills for five or more years, or have given birth to three or more children are at a higher risk for cervical cancer.
Fortunately, cervical cancer is easy to prevent and detect. Regular Pap tests can identify any abnormalities before cancer develops and is the best means of detecting cervical cancer at an early stage. Experts recommend that all women begin having Pap tests at age 21. Many women only begin seeing a gynecologist regularly after they become pregnant. It is then that they may discover they have cervical cancer, which can be dangerous to both the mother and the baby.
Two vaccines known as Gardasil and Cervarix can also help protect women from the disease. All females ages 11 to 26 are urged to talk to their healthcare provider about being vaccinated. The series of three shots is normally covered by insurance, however if you are uninsured, there are programs to help.
Early detection and preventative actions are crucial in saving lives. Please talk with your healthcare provider today. If you do not currently have a healthcare provider, please call the PMH Rural Health Clinic at 304-799-6200.
B-N-Charge diabetes classes
Tuesday, February 5, begins a new session of “B-N-Charge” diabetes self-management classes at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital. The program includes four group classes and additional individual meetings if needed. “B-N-Charge” provides the education and resources needed to control diabetes and is suitable for those just diagnosed or who have had diabetes for years. Topics include medication, nutrition, exercise, foot care, family involvement, social support, self-monitoring, prevention of complications, community services, behavioral change strategies,and stress tips. The classes are a Medicare-covered program and are also paid for by most health insurance plans. A physician referral is required. Please call Terry at 304-799-7400, ext. 1032, with any questions or for a referral form.