Sixty Mississippi women died from cervical cancer, a preventable disease, in 2008. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) encourages women to take preventive measures to reduce their chance of being diagnosed with cervical cancer during January – National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
In Mississippi, a major health disparity exists for women dying from cervical cancer. From 2004 to 2008, African American women died from cervical cancer at an age-adjusted rate of almost three times the rate of white women: 7.1 to 2.6.
“Cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer with few or no warning symptoms but it can be detected through a regular Pap test,” said Louisa Denson, Director, MSDH Office of Women’s Health. “Early detection is the best way to fight this disease. When caught at an early stage, cervical cancer has a significant cure rate.”
Factors that contribute to cervical cancer include: smoking, high-fat diets, a history of sexually transmitted diseases, multiple sex partners and having sexual intercourse at an early age.
Women who are at high risk should have an annual Pap test done. Through its Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, MSDH educates women about breast and cervical cancer, as well as offering free cancer screenings to those who qualify.
Mississippi women can find out more about cervical cancer and free screenings by calling the MSDH Breast and Cervical Cancer Program at 1-800-721-7222 or online at www.HealthyMS.com.