January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
Cervical cancer, most commonly caused by the human papilloma virus, may be the second leading type of cancer in the CNMI, next to breast cancer, yet there are several recommended ways to prevent this type of cancer as listed on cancer.gov and cancer.org.
Raising awareness about this type of cancer began last Friday when Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog signed a proclamation declaring January as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
Human papilloma virus, or HPV, accounts for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and being vaccinated against it is one of the ways to prevent this cancer type. The vaccine, which provides strong protection, is effective if given to females from 9 to 26 years old and reduces the risk of infection.
Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy are other ways. The Commonwealth Cancer Association still encourages every female to get a Pap test—a screening procedure—that is effective and must be done regularly by women age 21 to 65.
Pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge, and painful urination are some of the symptoms of cervical cancer. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Commonwealth Health Center Corp. conducts cervical cancer screening in the CNMI.
Torres and Hocog also urged all women and other members of the public to encourage their loved ones to get tested as a way to prevent the disease.
“We encourage all women in our lives to make that decision to undergo the test. It is never easy and our lives go by pretty fast that’s why we must take time to push them to get tested,” said Torres after signing the proclamation.
He pointed out that technology is now part of everyone’s daily life, and one could easily have a clinical appointment or schedule to get tested on one’s phone calendars to be easily reminded.
“Otherwise if you don’t take that extra step, we’re going to see time fly by. We don’t want to see that it’s too late. Don’t be part of the statistic and early detection is the best way. Encourage your loved one, significant other, or partner to get tested,” said Torres.
Hocog recognized the efforts done by CCA and its partners to help those who are already afflicted by this type or other forms of cancer. “We recognize CCA and your partner’s efforts and vigilance to help our people.”
“The CNMI has a high percentage of having different kinds of cancer. There are times that it is already too late. CCA and other organizations have programs to promote awareness and make sure our community, especially young women, take advantage of it.”
Hocog said that women in the Commonwealth should work on keeping their health and physical wellbeing. “Our hearts go out to families who have relatives dying because of cervical cancer. The administration, together with the Legislature would continue to provide service to its citizens.”
Cancer.org is under the National Cancer Institute, which is the federal government’s lead agency for cancer research while the non-profit American Cancer Society operates cancer.org, a community-based voluntary organization.