One of the most common forms of cancer that women suffer from is cervical cancer. Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the deadliest. Why is it that this form of cancer is so wide spread? Some are blaming the federal government.
According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 11 percent of women stated they had not undergone screening for cervical cancer within the past five years. Also noted was that 25 percent of those women did not have health insurance nor did they have a regular doctor.
Blame is getting pushed on the federal government because it changed the guidelines for cervical cancer screening in 2012. Women were told that screening was not needed on an annual basis. Pap smears were recommended once every three years for women who were between the ages of 21 and 65. And for women who had not yet reached their 21st birthday, no screening was recommended, regardless of whether or not they have become sexually active. For those who were 30-years-old but had not yet become 65, screenings were recommended only once every five years.
Why would these guidelines be so lax? And even though the Affordable Care Act mandates that health insurers cover the entire cost of cancer screenings, the guidelines indicate that women should put off having screenings conducted on a regular basis. Dr. Sharyn Lewin says “to blanketly say in these low risks patients 5 years is appropriate might be a stretch too far.” After all, annual checkups are of the utmost importance to a woman’s sexual health.
The American Cancer Society does not agree with the guidelines. It highly suggests that women of all ages start being screened annually at least three years after becoming sexually active. For those who aren’t sexually active, annual screening needs to start taking place after becoming 18-years-old.
About 12,000 women in the United States each year are told they have cervical cancer, and close to 33 percent of them die from the disease. The unfortunate factor is that cervical cancer is easy to treat when it is detected early. Pap smears and HPV tests are renowned methods for catching the cancer early on. But being that so many women don’t get screened, this contributes to the astounding number of women who have cervical cancer.
An annual screening is an effective way to diagnose and begin treatment for any woman who has this form of cancer. It is also imperative that women receive the HPV vaccine. There is no need for any woman to die from cervical cancer, and the Principal Deputy Director of the CDC says that “Every visit to a provider can be an opportunity to prevent cervical cancer by making sure women are referred for screening appropriately.”