State health officials launch campaign against cervical cancer

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is stepping up its battle against a serious public health problem – cervical cancer. 

Calling a new educational campaign “Operation Wipe Out Cervical Cancer Alabama,” ADPH officials are partnering with organizations statewide hoping to prevent cervical cancer from claiming lives.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows nearly 200,000 women are diagnosed with a cervical precancer and 11,100 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer caused by HPV.

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The most recent data from the American Cancer Society shows cervical cancer kills about 4,000 women each year in the United States. The results for Alabama are equally alarming with Alabama ranked third in the nation in the number of cervical cancer deaths.

Director of the ADPH Cancer Prevention and Control Division, Nancy Wright, said establishing a state action plan targeting cervical cancer is a historic benchmark.

“It is an opportunity for all segments of society to get involved, including parents, physicians, business leaders, community-based organizations, public health systems, and academic centers,” Wright said.

The plan includes using evidence-based strategies to promote cervical cancer screenings, ensure proper follow up for abnormal test results following a screening, and encourage the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. 

Health officials stated HPV vaccinations are a powerful tool that can protect children and adolescents before they are exposed to the HPV virus. The CDC recommends parents consider the HPV vaccinations for children ages 11 to 12. Cervical cancer screenings for women 21 to 65 years of age detects abnormal cells which could develop into cancer. Follow up and treatment of women who might receive abnormal test results improves chances of recovery from cervical cancer.

Partnering with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) are the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, TogetHer for Health, Rotary Club of Birmingham and the American Cancer Society.

For additional information regarding CDC research on cervical cancer, please visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/

For more information on the statewide action plan to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in Alabama, please visit www.alabamapublichealth.gov/bandc/assets/cervicalcancer_actionplan.pdf\.