The earlier cancer is detected, the better your chance of surviving -- that is why your DC VA Medical Center Women’s Health Clinic team encourages a cervical cancer screening, pap test, and human papillomavirus (HPV) test and vaccination for women Veterans 21 years and older.
Since cervical cancer is treatable, when detected early, please take time to schedule yourself a well-woman exam.
Cervical cancer occurs when cells in the body form lumps, or tumors, in the cervix. Cervical cancer is a significant health concern for women worldwide, but with screening and preventive measures, its impact can be greatly reduced. “Cervical cancer screening is the most effective way to identify cervical changes that may be cancer causing,” according to Shana Balogun, DNP, Women Veterans Program Manager, at the DC VA Medical Center.
Screenings are easily coordinated through your VA primary care provider and are completed by a qualified VA clinician. The screening includes a pelvic exam which allows the clinician to see the cervix and collect a small sample of cells. The screening is brief but quite important to identify abnormal cells in the cervix or HPV infection.
HPV is a viral infection linked to cervical cancer. Due to the link between HPV and cervical cancer, Balogun recommends HPV vaccinations as a preventative measure. Although the vaccine does not prevent the cancer, women who receive the HPV vaccine have a reduced chance of developing cancer.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the Women’s Health Clinic team is hosting a Cervical Cancer Prevention & Screening Information Session Thursday, January 25, 2024, 10 a.m. until 12 p.m., in the Medical Center Atrium at 50 Irving Street, NW, Washington, DC.
Your VA primary care team can identify when your next screening for cervical cancer should take place and the interval in which you should be screened. Make an appointment by calling 202-745-8000 or send your provider a secure message using MyHealtheVet.