Back in January, we wrote here about cervical cancer and Pap tests, which look for cancers and pre-cancers in the cervix. This month, it is National Minority Health Month, which is a time to discuss health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. It’s also a perfect opportunity to remind you how to prevent cervical cancer.
The theme of this year’s Minority Health Month is “Prevention is Power”. Considering Latinas have the second highest rate of getting and dying from cervical cancer out of all racial and ethnic groups, we are back to tell you three things you should know about cervical cancer prevention.
- More than half of cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test of have not been tested in the past five years. Periodic Pap tests play a huge role in preventing cervical cancer. Pap tests can catch pre-cancerous or cancerous cells when treatment is still relatively simple. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women should begin getting Pap tests at 21. While there are general guidelines about how often to get a Pap test, you can talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
- If you have health insurance, Pap tests are covered as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Depending on your health insurance plan, you may be able to get a Pap test at no cost to you. Check with your insurance plan to learn about what it is included in your plan.
- If you do not have health insurance, you may be eligible for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) through the CDC. This CDC program provides free or low-cost mammograms or Pap tests to women who have low-income and little or no health insurance. To learn more about eligibility for this program, take a look at the criteria on the NBCCEDP website.