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January is Cervical Health Awareness Month | Print |

Fulton County Board of Health’s Breast & Cervical Cancer Program Stresses the Importance of Pap Smear Tests

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 13,240 women will learn they have Cervical Cancer/HPV this year. Cervical Health Awareness Month is observed each January to remind women to protect themselves from the highly preventable disease of cervical cancer. The human papillomavirus or HPV causes roughly 99% of all cases. The Fulton County Board of Health is focusing on educating women about the importance of the Pap test as a screening tool for Cervical Cancer/HPV and about vaccines that can further reduce the burden of this devastating disease.

Health professionals say it is vitally important that women have regular Pap smear tests. Cervical Cancer screenings can help detect abnormal cells early before they become cancerous. Fulton County’s Women’s Health Nursing Supervisor Debra DeWitt explains, “Pap smear screenings are the most effective way of detecting precancerous cervical cells before they progress to cancer cells. Early detection of cervical precancerous or cancerous cells increases the rate of survival for women.”

HPV is the name for a group of viruses that can infect any external layer of the body—skin or the lining of the mouth and the vagina. At least 13 of the more than 100 different types of HPV can cause cervical cancer. Women and men increase their risk of contracting HPV by engaging in unsafe sexual activity and by having multiple sex partners.

Early age at first sexual intercourse (AFSI) has been associated with an increased risk of high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. It has also been speculated that the increased risk of HPV is because of a biological predisposition of the immature cervix during adolescence that may be more susceptible to persistent HPV infections and therefore have a greater risk of cancer development. An exchange of bodily fluids is not necessary to become infected with HPV. HPV can also be contracted through skin-to-skin contact. Vaccinating your teenager for HPV can prevent the spread of this dangerous virus.

Board of Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Program
The Fulton County Board of Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention (BCCP) program, in our Women’s Health Services division, provides low-cost or no-cost screenings. BCCP program services are available at these five (5) Fulton County health centers: Adamsville Regional, College Park Regional, North Fulton Regional, the Center for Health and Rehabilitation and the Teen Clinic at the Oak Hill Child, Adolescent and Family Center.

Program eligibility for women interested in BCCP:

• A Fulton County resident
• Uninsured
• Income eligible
• 40 to 64 years of age
• And must have had her last mammogram more than a year ago.

Call 404-612-1649 to reach the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention program coordinator or go online to www.fultoncountyga.gov/dhw-home to locate the BOH health centers nearest you.
You may also call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit the website, www.cancer.org to locate other Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention programs in your area.


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Director's Office: 404-613-1205

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Dr. Kathleen Toomey Health

Welcome to the Fulton County Department of Health & Wellness Website. I am Kathleen Toomey, M.D., M.P.H.,District Health Director.

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