To the editor,

There are two ways to prevent cervical cancer — vaccination and screening.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer and several other cancers. The HPV vaccine prevents about 90 percent of HPV-related cancers, including cervical. The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14, and young adults through age 26.

Cervical cancer screening tests can find the cells that lead to cancer before it starts. These cells can then be removed. Screening also helps to find cancer early when it may be most easily treated. Screening should begin at age 21 and is covered under most health plans, including Medicaid plans and New York State of Health participating plans.

Getting vaccinated at the right age and regular screening gives the best chance of preventing cervical cancer. If you are concerned about the risk of COVID-19, talk to your health care provider about your overall health and risk for cervical cancer. Together, you can decide if vaccination or screening is safe at this time.

No health care provider and no insurance? No problem. The Cancer Services Program (CSP) of the North Country can help eligible, uninsured women age 40 and older get cervical cancer screening. The program, which is supported with funds from New York State, also provides free breast and colon cancer screening to eligible New York State residents. Call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262) today to find out if you qualify for free cancer screenings.  

Carolyn Handville

CSP of the North Country

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