Pathways to health: Screening and vaccinations for cervical cancer saves lives

International Community Health Services January 8, 2018 0

By International Community Health Services

Cervical cancer, once a leading cause of death for women in the United States has had rates dramatically decline by 50% in the past few decades. Regular screenings, as well as a vaccine to prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections has made cervical cancer treating effective, resulting in proficient long term survival outcomes when detected early. Although cervical cancer’s threat may appear on the decline, over 12,000 women will be diagnosed this year, and 4,000 of these women will die of this preventable and treatable disease.

Pia Sampaga – Khim, International Community Health Service’s (ICHS’s), Health and Education Supervisor says, “The best tools we have for fighting cervical cancer are Pap tests and vaccinating for HPV.” Working with teens and young adults, Sampaga – Khim is aware of lifestyle risk factors that could lead to this cancer, such as HPV. “We work with parents and young people to talk about the HPV vaccine during our one-on-one sessions” she says, “one barrier we sometimes face, is that parents and guardians are not always on board for this vaccine due to the stigma of HPV being a sexually transmitted disease.”
Cervical cancer happens when cells in the lower part of the uterus, the cervix, grow out of control. HPV is the most common cause for this cancer; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates over 80 million men and women currently have this sexually transmitted infection. HPV, usually clears up by itself, although certain types of it may not clear up easily, and thus become chronic. “It is this chronic infection by certain high risk types of HPV that can cause cervical and other cancers” states the CDC.

Recommendations for the HPV vaccine are to inoculate, starting at age 11 or 12 for both boys and girls for a series of vaccinations. “Parents feel that as their child is not sexually active at that age, they don’t need it,” says Sampaga-Khim, “It takes health education to inform them of the benefits of this vaccination as a potentially life – saving, cancer prevention strategy.” She goes on to add, “we really need to reduce the stigma around this vaccination. I hope soon people can be as open in talking about this as we are about Hepatitis B and the flu shot!” Having observed lower vaccination rates in males, she is often asked why they need it. Her answer to them is simple, “This vaccine protects you and your future partner.”

Founded in 1973, ICHS is a non-profit community health center offering affordable primary medical and dental care, acupuncture, laboratory, pharmacy, behavioral health WIC, and health education services. ICHS’ four full-service medical and dental clinics – located in Seattle’s International District and Holly Park neighborhoods; and in the cities of Bellevue and Shoreline – serve nearly 29,000 patients each year. As the only community health center in Washington primarily serving Asians and Pacific Islanders, ICHS provides care in over 50 languages and dialects annually. ICHS is committed to improving the health of medically-underserved communities by providing affordable and in-language health care. For more information, please visit: www.ichs.com.

Cervical cancer, once a leading cause of death for women in the United States has had rates dramatically decline by 50% in the past few decades. Regular screenings, as well as a vaccine to prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections has made cervical cancer treating effective, resulting in proficient long term survival outcomes when detected early. Although cervical cancer’s threat may appear on the decline, over 12,000 women will be diagnosed this year, and 4,000 of these women will die of this preventable and treatable disease.

Pia Sampaga – Khim, International Community Health Service’s (ICHS’s), Health and Education Supervisor says, “The best tools we have for fighting cervical cancer are Pap tests and vaccinating for HPV.” Working with teens and young adults, Sampaga – Khim is aware of lifestyle risk factors that could lead to this cancer, such as HPV. “We work with parents and young people to talk about the HPV vaccine during our one-on-one sessions” she says, “one barrier we sometimes face, is that parents and guardians are not always on board for this vaccine due to the stigma of HPV being a sexually transmitted disease.”

Cervical cancer happens when cells in the lower part of the uterus, the cervix, grow out of control. HPV is the most common cause for this cancer; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates over 80 million men and women currently have this sexually transmitted infection. HPV, usually clears up by itself, although certain types of it may not clear up easily, and thus become chronic. “It is this chronic infection by certain high risk types of HPV that can cause cervical and other cancers” states the CDC.

Recommendations for the HPV vaccine are to inoculate, starting at age 11 or 12 for both boys and girls for a series of vaccinations. “Parents feel that as their child is not sexually active at that age, they don’t need it,” says Sampaga-Khim, “It takes health education to inform them of the benefits of this vaccination as a potentially life – saving, cancer prevention strategy.” She goes on to add, “we really need to reduce the stigma around this vaccination. I hope soon people can be as open in talking about this as we are about Hepatitis B and the flu shot!” Having observed lower vaccination rates in males, she is often asked why they need it. Her answer to them is simple, “This vaccine protects you and your future partner.”

Founded in 1973, ICHS is a non-profit community health center offering affordable primary medical and dental care, acupuncture, laboratory, pharmacy, behavioral health WIC, and health education services. ICHS’ four full-service medical and dental clinics – located in Seattle’s International District and Holly Park neighborhoods; and in the cities of Bellevue and Shoreline – serve nearly 29,000 patients each year. As the only community health center in Washington primarily serving Asians and Pacific Islanders, ICHS provides care in over 50 languages and dialects annually. ICHS is committed to improving the health of medically-underserved communities by providing affordable and in-language health care. For more information, please visit: www.ichs.com.

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