National Women's Health Week observed May 10-16

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- May 10-16 is National Women's Health Week!

Did you know that cervical cancer is caused by a sexually transmitted virus? Human papillomavirus is spread by intimate contact and can result in cervical, vulvar, vaginal, anal, penile, head and neck cancer. HPV is very common, and it has been estimated that 75-80 percent of sexually active adults will acquire a genital tract HPV infection before the age of 50.

The most important thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer is to be vaccinated against HPV. The HPV vaccine is recommended for males and females between the ages of 9 and 26, even if they have already been diagnosed with HPV. The HPV vaccine is a series of three injections given over the course of six months. Contact the Immunizations Clinic at DSN 452-8551 or commercial 0656561-8551 for more information on vaccination.

Women should still be screened for cervical cancer even if they have been vaccinated against HPV. The guidelines for cervical cancer screening, updated in 2013, recommend a pap test every three years for women between the ages of 21 and 29 and co-testing with pap & HPV tests every five years for women between the ages of 30 and 65.

Most German providers do not offer HPV testing, so patients who have had a pap test with a German provider should follow up in three years instead of five.

Women with a history of an abnormal pap test require more frequent testing than the screening intervals listed above, some for up to four years after their most recent abnormal pap test. In most cases, cervical cancer screening is no longer needed for those women older than 65 or after removal of the cervix, as is usually done during a hysterectomy.

If you have ever been told that your pap test was abnormal, you should discuss your individualized testing recommendations with your healthcare provider.

Women who are due to PCS or deploy are required to have their medical records reviewed prior to obtaining clearance to depart. If you have an upcoming PCS or deployment and think you might be due for pap testing, please inquire as soon as possible to help expedite the process.

If you are due or overdue for your cervical cancer screening, you may walk into the Women's Health Clinic without an appointment May 13 from 7:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. to have a pap test. Please note, the walk-in clinic is for screening only. You should schedule an appointment if you would like a full examination or have a problem you would like to discuss with a healthcare provider.

Contact the 52nd Medical Group Appointment Line at DSN 452-8333 or commercial 0656561-8333 to schedule. More information is available at www.womenshealth.gov.