SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — January is “Cervical Health Awareness Month” declared by United States Congress. It’s a way to highlight issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease and how crucial early detection is.

In honor of raising awareness about cervical cancer, the Onondaga County Health Department is offering free cervical cancer screenings, a service highlighted throughout January.

WHO QUALIFIES?

  • Must be 40 to 64-year-old with cervix
  • Must be uninsured
  • Pelvic Exams
  • Pap and HPV Tests

Cervical cancer can often go unnoticed or undetected early on. More than 14,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year, but the disease is preventable with appropriate testing and vaccination.

“Screening tests are able to find pre-cancerous cells before they turn into cancer, so that’s why screening is so important. With cervical cancer, it’s not one of those cancers where you may have symptoms early on, so it’s really important to get those screening tests done.”

KARA VERBANIC, PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATOR OF THE CANCER SERVICES PROGRAM, ONONDAGA COUNTY

Not only are the free screenings a way to raise awareness, but the Onondaga County Health Department uses the opportunity to break down barriers for people living in underrepresented communities.

“People without health insurance are less likely to get screened for cancer and early detection is key,” Verbanic said. “We try to make it as easy as possible for people. They can give us a call and we can get them in with providers all throughout the Syracuse area or Onondaga County that are credentialed with our program. We provide case management where we can try and help them understand things if they’re having difficulty understanding their results or anything like that.”

Women 21 to 29-years-old should receive a PAP test every three years. Those 30 and older are encouraged to get HPV and PAP tests every five years.

If you qualify and would like to set up a free screening, call the Onondaga County Cancer Services Program at (315) 435-3653.

Regardless if you qualify for the county’s free screening opportunity, let this be a reminder for everyone 21 and older to get screened for cervical cancer regularly.

The Cancer Services Program through the county health department also provides free breast and colorectal cancer screenings. Screening services are provided at a variety of convenient locations throughout Onondaga County.