A statewide campaign to increase awareness and prevention of cervical cancer and its primary cause, the human papillomavirus, had its kickoff at a January press conference at UC Davis Cancer Center.
Anne Rodriguez, assistant professor of gynecologic oncology, and Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, assistant professor of internal medicine and director of the Outreach Research and Education Program, underscored the need to spread the word, especially to minority communities.
"Although cervical cancer is an important concern for all California women, ethnic minorities, such as Hispanic and Asian women, are at especially high risk," Rodriguez said. "The lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer for Hispanic and Asian women is more than double the lifetime risk in non-Hispanic white women."
Emphasized von Friederichs-Fitzwater: "We need to get the message of 'screen yourself and vaccinate your daughter" out to every woman, and particularly women who may not see a health-care provider on a regular basis."
The "Screen Yourself, Vaccinate Your Daughter" campaign is a project of the California Medical Association Foundation and endorsed by a long list of health organizations, including the American Cancer Society. It is supported by a grant from Merck & Co.
The U.S. Preventive Health Services Task Force recommends women start having regular Pap tests and pelvic exams at age 21, or within three years of the first time they have sexual intercourse, whichever occurs first. The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends routine HPV vaccination for 11- to 12-year-old girls. The vaccine is approved for females ages 9 through 26.