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ISDH stresses importance of cervical cancer screenings

It's estimated that 88 Indiana women die each year because of cervical cancer, a disease that is nearly 100% preventable.

Posted: Feb 4, 2019 12:43 AM
Updated: Feb 4, 2019 12:55 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The Indiana State Department of Health is looking to educate Hoosiers about Cervical Cancer prevention.
It's estimated that 88 Indiana women die each year because of cervical cancer, a disease that is nearly 100% preventable.

As part of the Indiana Cancer Control Plan for 2018-2020, the ISDH is looking reduce cervical cancer deaths among Hoosier women.

Dr. Katie Towles is an OBGYN for Franciscan Health East. She sees the problem with cervical cancer screening.

"There's just such a disparity between people who are way over screened because their providers are not following the most up-to-date guidelines and a large population of underscreened people," she said. "The women who are under-screened are the ones we are trying to reach out to."

She explains the current guidlines for screenings.

"For a routine patient, a pap test should not be done prior to age 21," she said. "So at 21 that's when cervical cancer screenings should be done for your average patient."

And then, the test should be done every three years after that. However Dr. Towles said the more frequently someone's test come back in the clear in their 20's, the less they have to be tested after that point. But if you do have abnormal tests or are a high risk patient for the disease, she said it's important to keep getting tested.

"The peak age around mid 40's for cervical cancer but you can see it in any age group," she said.

Which is why getting teens the Human Papillomavirus vaccine early on can make a big difference. The CDC recommends that teens as young as 11 should start getting the vaccines.

"HPV vaccine is a very very good vaccine that when given now is going to protect our teenage from experiencing cervical cancer," she said.

The YWCA of Greater Lafayette has a Women's Cancer program.

"The heart of our mission is here in Tippecanoe county however we do serve 41 counties in central Indiana," said Amber Thurman, Director of the Womans Cancer Program. "We pay for breast and cervical cancer screenings."

Thurman said their goal is to help women overcome any barriers that may be standing in the way of their health.

"Whether it's you aren't able to travel to the appointment because you don't have transportation," she said. "We also offer translation services and 62% of our staff speak spanish. We are here to assist the women of this community."

She said much of their funding for cervical cancer screenings comes from fundraisers and community donations. She said it only takes a five minute phone call to start learning your options for cervical or breast cancer screenings with the YWCA. To learn more about setting up an appointment or if you are interested in donating to the cause, call the Women's Cancer Program at 765-742-4375.

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