January 06, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Patient Care Public Health Quality of Care
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. During this time, the California Medical Association (CMA) and CMA Foundation encourage physicians to talk to their patients about the risks of cervical cancer – and ways to prevent it, including increased screenings and vaccinations.
The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be prevented through vaccination. Studies have shown that the HPV vaccine has the potential to prevent up to 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and deaths in California annually. Cervical cancer can also be detected through inexpensive screenings, such as the pap test.
Each year, an estimated 12,900 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, causing over 4,000 deaths. In California alone, according to the American Cancer Society’s California Cancer Facts & Figures 2014 report, over 6,500 new cases of cervical cancer were expected in 2014, resulting in over 1,300 deaths.
The disease also disproportionately affects Hispanic and African American women. To help educate Latinas about the importance of regular screenings and vaccinations, the CMA Foundation produced a Spanish-language public service announcement, available at www.cal.md/hpv-psa-spanish. Physicians with high numbers of Spanish-speaking patients may wish to show the PSA in patient waiting areas.
The CMA Foundation has also developed an adult immunization schedule, available here, to spark physician-patient conversations about the benefits of vaccinations for adults.