Prioritizing Prevention: Why Women's Yearly Exams Are So Important

The beginning of the year is a great time to schedule those important annual visits with your doctor and make sure physical exams and tests are up to date. With January being Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we want to highlight the importance of women’s yearly exams and health issues related to cervical cancer, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and early detection and prevention.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that nearly 14,500 individuals will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive cervical cancer in 2021. At one time, cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer deaths for American women. Proving to be preventable in most cases, cervical cancer death rates dropped significantly with increased Pap testing, HPV testing and administration of the HPV vaccine.  

The providers at the Harbin Clinic Women’s Center Rome and Women’s Center Cartersville encourage women to schedule their wellness visits yearly to make sure they are current with necessary testing and physical exams. 

At a woman’s annual visit, patients can expect their provider to perform preventative screenings for breast cancer and gynecological cancers, such as ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer. These screenings are essential for women to maintain their overall health and detect potential pre-cancerous cell growth.

Women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have a Pap smear every 3 years and HPV testing every 5 years for those ages 25 to 65.  

In addition to regular proactive screening, healthcare professionals strongly recommend that their patients receive the HPV vaccine. 

This vaccine protects children and young adults against certain HPV infections, typically those most commonly linked to cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 12 receive the HPV vaccine as a part of their routine vaccinations. For older children and young adults, they can receive the vaccine up to age 26. 

“It’s a common misconception that HPV infection causes just cervical cancer in women,” says Erin Hernandez, President and CEO of the NWGA Regional Cancer Coalition. “But in fact, HPV infection causes six types of cancer that affects both males and females. The HPV vaccine can prevent up to 90% of HPV related cancer; it’s crucial that children and young adults have access to this vaccine.”

It’s important to know that no vaccine provides complete protection against all cancer-causing types of HPV, so routine cancer screening is still needed. To schedule a visit with the Harbin Clinic Women’s Center in Rome or Cartersville, visit Harbin Clinic Women's Health