The United States Congress has designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Cervical cancer is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.
HPV vaccines can help prevent infection from both high-risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts. The CDC recommends all boys and girls get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12, since the vaccine produces a stronger immune response when taken during the preteen years. A Pap test can find cell changes to the cervix caused by HPV.
Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute document GP15-A3, Cervicovaginal Cytology Based on the Papanicolaou Technique provides guidance for health care providers who are responsible for collecting cervicovaginal cytology specimens and preparing conventional Pap smears. The guideline focuses on quality collection and processing of specimens, addressing all steps, including patient assessment, test requisition, specimen collection, specimen transport, and specimen receipt and processing. Illustrations of the techniques are described, and a specimen requisition form is also included.
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition has information about how your organization can help spread the word about National Cervical Health Awareness Month through social media with suggestions for posts and downloadable content, such as posters and fact sheets.