Maine CDC Press Release

January 4, 2005

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Contacts: Lani Graham Michael Norton
  Acting Director, Bureau of Health Director, Public & Media Relations
  Dept. of Health and Human Services Dept. of Health and Human Services
  Tel:  (207) 287-3270 Tel: (207) 287-3707
  TTY: (207) 287-8066 TTY: (207) 287-4479

Augusta – In recognition of National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is reminding Maine women that regular screening for early detection is their best protection. Most cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. Since cancer of the cervix is curable when detected early, women who do not have regular screenings are at the highest risk. Regular Pap tests are the only reliable way to prevent cervical cancer.

The Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program (MBCHP) and the Maine Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (MCCCP), cancer control initiatives of Maine HHS’s Bureau of Health, made the reminder in concert with the National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month this January.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that between 60% and 80% of American women with newly diagnosed invasive cervical cancer have not had a Pap test in the past five years. In 2002, 92% of Maine women age 18-64 had a Pap test within the last 3 years. However, only 81% of women over 65 had a Pap test during the same time period.

“The most important thing a woman can do to avoid cervical cancer is to have regular Pap tests,” said Lani Graham, MD, acting director of HHS’s Bureau of Health. “If a woman has not had a Pap test within the last 3 years, she should call her health care provider today.”

For women in need of financial assistance, the MBCHP provides free breast and cervical health screenings. To qualify, a woman must be 40 or older; meet certain income guidelines; have no medical insurance (including MaineCare and Medicare Part B), or have insurance that does not cover screening services.

For more information about the MBCHP, or to see if you qualify, please call 1-800-350-5180.

The MCCCP provides leadership for, and coordination of, Maine's statewide comprehensive cancer control efforts. It is guided by the goals and objectives delineated in the Maine Cancer Plan. For more information about the MCCCP or for a copy of the Maine Cancer Plan, please call 1-207-287-5358 or visit www.MaineCancerConsortium.org