Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

Guest opinion: Let's erah cervical cancer once and for all

Guest opinion: Let's erah cervical cancer once and for all

This is a guest opinion column.

And more than ever, we have the ability to protect women against cervical cancer. Even in the middle of a pandemic, this is a good start, because eliminating the danger could save the lives of more than 4,000 women in the United States each year.

In fact, a safe and effective vaccine was developed for adolescent girls and girls, which is safe and effective. HPV, the virus responsible for 99 percent of cervical cancer cases, is the foundation for this groundbreaking vaccination.

Australia is on track to reach an all-time low in cervical cancer cases thanks to an international commitment in an HPV vaccination campaign and cervical cancer screening. In 2013, Australia was the first country to establish a next-generation vaccination for HPV to combat even more related cancers.

We are vaccinating more adolescents against HPV, particularly as recommended by pediatricians during routine adolescent immunization. Seeing significant reduction in cancer rates will take another 10 to 20 years, but research shows this to be true in countries that conducted the first vaccine trials.

The Pap test for more vulnerable women is now a game changer. It helps us identify cervical cancer and precancer earlier and better, and it helps us to better understand their health status. This helps us to determine what is the best follow-up strategy for you personally, one, three or five years depending on your individual risk and history.

The Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is providing free breast and cervical cancer screenings for women who meet eligibility guidelines.

For women with cervical cancer, there are new and better therapies to offer, fueled by clinical trials. Recent advances include immunotherapy, which harnesses the body's natural defenses to combat cancer, and targeted therapy, which targets specific genes, proteins or the tissue environment to block cancer growth.

We should be proud of this progress, but we must make more to reach out to the audience.

It is even more heartbreaking to lose someone in the prime of life, leaving a huge void in their family.

For January, we are continuing to be optimistic about where we are heading. I invite you to join me as we spread the word about cervical cancer awareness and prevention. Please make sure the young people in your life are vaccinated against HPV, and that the women in your life are kept informed about any abnormalities.

Together, we can fight this disease.

Jennifer Young Pierce, a PhD student and a Gynecologic Oncology Program leader, is a researcher at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute.

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