A pap test is the first line of defense to prevent cervical cancer


By Karen Forest

Special to the PREVIEW

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and women across Colorado are encouraged to start the year by talking with their health care providers about scheduling a pap test. A pap test is the first line of defense against cervical cancer. When it’s found early, more than 92 percent of women survive cervical cancer.

“When you find out can be just as important was what you find out,” said a Women’s Wellness Connection spokesperson. “Cervical cancer usually doesn’t have any signs or symptoms, so a routine pap test will tell you if you have a problem.”

Under health care reform, insurance plans are required to cover women’s preventive health services, like pap tests, without charging co-pays. The Women’s Wellness Connection offers free cervical cancer screenings and any necessary follow-up treatments to Colorado women between the ages of 40-64 years who have little or no health insurance and meet income requirements. To find out details, call the hotline at (970) 356-5059 or visit www.womenswellnessconnection.org.

“I have such peace of mind now that I got screened,” said one participant. “I realized that to take care of my family, I had to take care of me first.”

Every year in the U.S., approximately 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 4,000 women die of the disease. Latinas and African-American women are at higher risk for developing cervical cancer. A routine pap test can prevent most of these deaths — screening save lives.

Women’s Wellness Connection provides free, confidential breast and cervical cancer screenings — clinical breast exams, pap tests and mammograms — to eligible women at more than 120 sites through cooperative efforts with multiple statewide providers. Women’s Wellness Connection’s statewide hotline number, (866) 951-WELL (9355), is made possible through an in-kind donation from the American Cancer Society. ACS staff members operate the hotline to answer questions, provide additional information about the program and help women make appointments with local Women’s Wellness Connection providers.