Letters to the Editor for Dec 30, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month. This is an opportunity to remind women to schedule their annual pap tests and appointments for their children to receive the series of HPV vaccine shots, and to raise awareness about this preventable disease.
Cervical cancer affects all races; Latinas and African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates across the nation.Cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer worldwide and is responsible for 4,000 deaths in the United States. Nearly 1,400 California women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 400 die from the disease each year. Among California women, it is ranked the seventh most common cancer in the Latina and Vietnamese populations. The California Medical Association (CMA) Foundation has launched efforts to reduce these numbers. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers that can easily be detected through an inexpensive pap screening and also prevented through a vaccine.
Cancer screenings are available free for low-income women through California’s federally funded Every Woman Counts program, among others. For those who don’t qualify for free programs, the test costs about $45, depending on where it is obtained and the scope of the exam. Each of the three HPV vaccine doses cost approximately $125, but often are covered by insurance or the Vaccines for Children program.
To see if you qualify for a free screening, call “Every Woman Counts” at 1-800-511-2300 Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 5pm. Operators speak English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese. If you qualify, you will be referred to participating doctors. To see if your child qualifies for a free HPV vaccine, ask the doctor if they offer Vaccines for Children (VFC) shots. Children eligible for California’s Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) program may also be eligible for free or low-cost shots. David R. Holley, M.D. | Monterey
(Dr. Holley is a radiation oncologist at Community Hospital.)