The Cancer Services Program of Suffolk County is urging women to get screened for cervical cancer, as January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
The program, which is supported by funding from New York State, offers screening to women 40 and older who do not have health insurance. State statistics show that women without insurance are less likely to get lifesaving preventive care services such as cancer screenings.
According to recent data, about 71 percent of women without insurance have had a Pap smear test within the past three years, while about 88 percent of women with insurance have received the screening, putting those without insurance at higher risk for developing cervical cancer, a statement from the program said.
“Our program can help close the cervical cancer screening gap for women without insurance,” said the program’s Maureen O’Connor.
National guidelines recommend cervical cancer screening, which can find cells that lead to cancer, about every three years for those with normal results on their last test. Cervical cancer is most often found in women who rarely get screened or have never been screened, the statement said, adding that cervical cancer does not usually have symptoms early on.
“Some women are at higher risk for cervical cancer," Ms. O'Connor said. "Women who smoke are about twice as likely to get cervical cancer compared to non-smokers, and cervical cancer is more often found in women over the age of 30. We encourage women not to delay their screening and to talk to their doctor or call the Cancer Services Program."
Those interested in finding a Cancer Services Program provider can call 1-866-442-CANCER or visit the New York State Health Department's cancer services website.