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Peach State Health Plan shares preventive tips

ATLANTA  —  For Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, Peach State Health Plan is encouraging women to get screened regularly starting at age 21.
Georgia has the fifth highest cervical cancer death rate in the U.S. as of 2012, according to the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control.
“One of the most important things a woman can do to combat cervical cancer is to schedule regular screening exams. Women ages 21-65 should be tested at least every three years by their physician. If you have high risk factors such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), you should definitely be tested,” said Dr. John Greeson, senior vice president, medical affairs, Peach State Health Plan. Women ages 30-65 may also screen every five years using standard cervical cell testing and HPV co-testing.
Regular screening can detect cervical dysplasia (pre-cancers), and early treatment can stop cervical dysplasia before cancer develops.
In addition, there are a number of risk factors to consider in the prevention of cervical cancer. These include:
• Sexually Transmitted Diseases. HPV (human papillomavirus) infection, which can be passed from one person to another during intercourse, is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer. Studies have also suggested that women who have contracted Chlamydia are at greater risk for cervical cancer.
• Tobacco Smoking. Smoking is a dangerous health habit in general, and women who smoke are twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer. The addition of chemical additives and a reduced immune system may damage DNA in cells of the cervix, making cancer more likely to develop.
• Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise. Diets comprised of highly processed foods that are low in vitamins and healthy nutrients have been linked to an increased risk of developing cervical and other cancers. Similarly, women who are overweight are at a higher risk for developing cervical cancer.
• Multiple Pregnancies and Teen Pregnancies. Women who have had three or more full-term pregnancies have an increased risk of cervical cancer. Additionally, the risk of developing cervical cancer is nearly twice as high for women who had a first full-term pregnancy before the age of 17.
• HIV Infection. HIV is another major risk factor for cervical cancer. HIV makes a woman’s immune system less able to fight both the virus and early cancers. HIV-positive women may have pre-cancerous lesions develop into more invasive cancer at a faster rate than HIV-negative women.
Peach State Health Plan is a Care Management Organization that serves the Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids® population in partnership with Georgia Families. Peach State Health Plan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation.