INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today kicked off a strategic planning effort designed to identify and reduce the state’s number of cervical cancer cases and deaths. September is National Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, and the ISDH marked the occasion by bringing together public health experts, medical professionals, researchers and others across the state to discuss ways to protect Hoosiers from this disease.

“Cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent preventable, yet every year, Indiana women die from this terrible disease,” said Deputy State Health Commissioner Pamela Pontones. “By convening key leaders from all corners of our state, we can work together to reduce the burden of cervical cancer and save lives.”

Cervical cancer is an abnormal growth of cells on, or that began in, the cervix. It is nearly 100 percent preventable through regular routine screening, avoiding tobacco products and other controllable risk factors, and vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

In Indiana, 1,283 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed and 446 cervical cancer-related deaths occurred from 2011–2015, according to the Indiana State Cancer Registry. The American Cancer Society estimates that nationally in 2017, 12,820 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed and 4,210 deaths will occur.

HPV is the single greatest risk factor for cervical cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians, all boys and girls ages 11 or 12 should get vaccinated against HPV. Although older teens and young adults can receive the vaccine through age 26, studies have shown that the vaccine produces a better immune response at earlier ages.

House Bill 1278, enacted earlier this year, charged ISDH with identifying methods to increase the number of Hoosiers vaccinated for HPV, increasing regular cervical cancer screenings and creating partnerships throughout the state to reduce the number of cases.

Visit the Indiana Cancer Consortium (ICC) at http://indianacancer.org/cervical_cancer_toolkit/ for more information on cervical cancer, risk factors and prevention.

  

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