The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) recently reminded women that regular Pap tests can help prevent cervical cancer deaths.
In 2011, 358 women in Michigan were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer; and 114 women in Michigan died from cervical cancer in 2012.
For the past 70 years, Pap tests have affordable and simple, but more than half of women who die from cervical cancer never have the test, the MDCH said.
In addition to regular Pap tests, the health department stressed the importance of receiving the vaccine to prevent the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the strongest determinant of whether a woman will contract cervical cancer.
“About 70 percent of cervical cancer in the United States could be prevented through (the HPV) vaccination,” Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive of the MDCH, said. “Three doses of HPV vaccine are recommended for girls and boys at 11-12 years of age, but the vaccine can be given up through age 26. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and produces better immunity when given at the recommended age of 11-12 years.”
Statistics released by the Michigan Care Improvement Registry in December 2014 stated that only 16.1 percent of males and 32.3 percent of females ages 13-17 received all three doses of the HPV vaccine.
Health professionals recommend that women begin to screen for cervical cancer at age 21. The Healthy Michigan Plan covers the cost of the screenings.
The HPV vaccine is covered by most health insurance plans as well as Vaccines for Children, MI-Child and Medicaid.