Editorial: Stigma For Cervical Cancer Must Be Overcome

In 2017, an estimated 12,820 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

And, in the same year, 4,210 women died from the same disease.Sponsored: Gambar Koala

Last week, the Madison County Community Health Center focused on the disease during one of its Lunch and Learn programs.

The guest speaker was Erica Frazier, a 32-year-old who is outliving cancer for the third time.

The session, one of seven planned, focused on cancer screenings as part of a program with the American Cancer Society.

The society estimates that 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year.

"Cervical cancer is an entirely preventable cancer," according to Dr. Jeanne Schilder, the Mary Fendrich Hulman professor of gynecologic oncology and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

But it's the cancer that comes with a stigma attached.

"There's a stigma attached to the HPV vaccine," Schilder said. The vaccine, she said, is something that would lead to promiscuity.

Why are HPV vaccinations not supported?

That stigma stems from the fact that most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread between sexual partners.

Parents and grandparents believe that vaccinating kids for HPV will make them more promiscuous, according to Annette Moore.

Moore, an oncologist with Community Health Network, said HPV is the biggest risk factor for cervical cancer.

State Rep. Sharon Negele, R-District 13, who represents eight counties in the northern part of the state, said the lack of education surrounding HPV was enough to get her own daughter vaccinated.

"The more I started researching the subject, the more I became aware that we weren't doing a very good job in Indiana at eradicating cervical cancer," Negele said.

Negele said many people believe that HPV was contracted through "inappropriate behavior" and that "the age to vaccinate was somehow going to lead to increased sexual activity."

"We're just not doing a good enough job," she said.

Negele believed so strongly that something needed to be done, last year she authored House Bill 1278, which focused on cervical cancer prevention and education.

The bill passed unanimously, and was signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in April.

"There's a huge momentum going," Negele said.

The Indiana State Department of Health is currently developing a strategic plan to identify and significantly reduce morbidity and mortality from the disease.

Programs, like the one at the Madison County Community Health Center, will also help provide education and proper screenings.

Let's keep it going. More and more awareness of the cancer is only the first step to stop this preventable cancer.

Source : http://www.heraldbulletin.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-stigma-for-cervical-cancer-must-be-overcome/article_649562a1-ed0e-5f92-ac68-aab4e6b9eef5.html

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