Awareness Is Key for Cervical Health: Cancer Screenings Save Lives

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January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.[1]

Part of ensuring cervical health involves regular screening for cancer. Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. Each year, approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States.

It used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. It used to be—that’s not something we usually hear about cancer. But cervical cancer can often be successfully treated when it’s found early. And with early detection and effective screening, the mortality rate has decreased by more than 50 percent in the last 30 years.

The Bottom Line: Cervical Cancer is Preventable in Most Cases Because of Effective Screening Tests

Unfortunately, not enough women get screened. Only 60 percent of women 21–64 years of age who were enrolled in Medicaid HMO plans, were screened for cervical cancer in 2014.[2] That means the remaining 40 percent put themselves at potential risk.

*This measure has existed since 1999 and was updated in 2013 to reflect new guidelines from the US Preventive Services Task Force.
*This measure has existed since 1999 and was updated in 2013 to reflect new guidelines from the US Preventive Services Task Force.

The responsibility for screening is not women’s alone. Health plans are aware of the guidelines and should do more to make their patients aware of them, too. And what better time than Cervical Health Awareness Month?

By making more patients aware of screening guidelines, everyone can do their part in saving lives. Screenings prompt early detection; early detection means early treatment and a better chance of cure.

All women deserve that chance.

[1] Learn more about Cervical Health Awareness Month at the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.

[2] Data gathered from NCQA’s 2015 State of Health Care Quality Report.

Amy Maciejowski
Amy Maciejowski is the Communications Specialist at NCQA. She supports internal and external communications for NCQA, aiming to increase NCQA’s consumer facing brand. She creates blog posts, social media strategies and infographics to bring awareness to the health care quality agenda. Amy holds a master’s degree in Political Communications from American University.

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