As we close our January, we don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to share information on Cervical Health Awareness Month, an initiative designed to inform women of the importance of regular gynecologist checkups. The World Health Organization states that cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women with an estimated 570,000 new cases in 2018. Regular pap smears are the key to early detection of pre-cancerous or cancerous cells, increasing the odds of prompt and successful treatment.

What Causes Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs when the cells lining the cervix develop abnormalities. While there is no single cause, doctors have identified risk factors. Women with a family history of the illness are more susceptible, as are those who smoke, those who don’t have a balance diet, or have a weakened immune system. 

gynecologistThe biggest identifiable risk factor for developing cervical cancer is infection by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. This is a group of some 150 viruses that can lead to abnormalities in cell tissue. There is a vaccine available, however, which protects against strains of HPV considered “high risk” in terms of their link to cancer. 

How Visiting Your Gynecologist Helps

The great news is that the number of cervical cancer cases and related fatalities in the United States has decreased drastically over the past four decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute this largely to more women getting regular pap smears, which identify precancerous cells before they develop into cancer. 

A pap smear by a gynecologist is a painless exam and takes only a few minutes to complete. It is recommended that all women start getting a pap smear every three years at age 21. Starting at 30, a pap test combined with an HPV test is recommended every five years. Exact testing needs can vary for high-risk individuals, the American Cancer Society and The American Academy of Obstetrics & Gynecology website provides more details regarding recommendations. It is encouraged that you talk to a medical provider to see what screenings are right for you based off your age, history, etc.   

This January, mark Cervical Cancer Awareness Month by scheduling a checkup with your gynecologist. For an appointment PrimaryPlus offers four women’s health locations including Ashland, Vanceburg, Maysville and Flemingsburg. Their friendly medical team encompass over 150+ years of experience and are known for their accessibility and welcoming demeanor and will be happy to answer your OB/GYN health questions. Learn more about their locations and services——online. To schedule an appointment, give them a call at Ashland:  (606) 324-0128, Vanceburg:  (606-796-3660) and Maysville:  (606-759-5331)—you may also schedule women’s health appointments for our Flemingsburg location via the Maysville OB/GYN office.  PrimaryPlus is a Federally Qualified Health Center with over seven locations and a range of services including Family Health, OB/GYN, Dental, Counseling Occupational Medicine, X-Ray/Ultrasound, Pharmacy and more.    To learn more about their locations, services and medical team visit