The great news is that cervical cancer, linked to an infection in the cervix called the human papillomavirus (HPV), is one of the most preventable cancers. January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and it’s timely for Westmed OB/GYNs to remind women that fortunately, in the past 30 years, the use of the Pap test—a life-saving screening test–has successfully reduced cervical cancer deaths by over 50 percent!
The Pap test can detect abnormal cells on the cervix before they become cervical cancer.
Dr. Patricia Calayag, Westmed’s associate medical director for women’s health, explains, “Our gynecologists have been ahead of the curve doing HPV screening and subtyping for the highest risk viruses on all patients who come in for Pap smears over the age of 30 and under 65. This helps us guide patients on the proper follow-up.”
Current guidelines recommend a Pap every one to three years for women from ages 18 to 50, and after that “a woman should discuss it with her gynecologist, who should be seen yearly,” said Dr. Calayag.
For young people, the HPV vaccine has and will continue to dramatically decrease rates of cervical cancer.
What’s the Latest about HPV and Vaccination for Young People?
WESTMED pediatricians offer vaccination with Gardasil, which provides protection against the four most common strains of the human papilloma virus. The vaccine is recommended for girls and women from ages 9 to 26 years of age and can be given by either a pediatrician or OB/GYN provider. Gardasil is usually administered in the upper arm or thigh in three injections; 2nd dose two months later; third one, six months later. It works best if a girl gets it before she has sex for the first time.
Also, “immunization is important for boys,” says WESTMED Pediatrician Dr. Wendy Proskin. “Oral and anal cancers are on the rise due to more virulent strains of HPV, in both girls and boys.”
“We start vaccinating girls and boys at age 11,” says Dr. Wendy Proskin. “And—something new–if the children’s vaccination series is started prior to the 15th birthday, they only need two doses total instead of three.”
For the scheduling of Pap tests and HPV vaccinations, Westmed has OB/GYN providers and pediatricians at all four of its large medical offices—in White Plains at 210 Westchester Avenue, in Rye at 1 Theall Road, in Yonkers at 73 Market Street and in New Rochelle at 171 Huguenot Street. For detailed information about the providers and contact information, go to https://www.westmedgroup.com/find-providers