The Connecticut Urgent Care Centers, a Practice Velocity client, is encouraging women to take preventative steps against cervical cancer.

Throughout January, Connecticut Urgent Care Centers shared the National Cervical Cancer Coalition’s campaign to improve awareness through increased education, testing, and early detection services.

Around 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. each year, but many cases can be prevented through testing and early detection. Doctors now know that the cell changes that occur long before cervical cancer typically develops are often caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus can be detected through traditional Pap tests or through a new HPV test.

Roughly 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 14 million new infections occur each year. Further, the CDC says each year 27,000 men and women in the U.S. are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer. That’s a new diagnosis every 20 minutes.

This week 70 cancer centers in the U.S. issued a call to action to improve HPV vaccination rates. According to a 2015 CDC report, only 40% of girls and 21% of boys are receiving the recommended three doses of HPV vaccine.

“This falls far short of the goal of 80% by the end of this decade set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Health People 2020 mission,” the statement from the National Cancer Institute cancer centers noted.

The CDC currently recommends three doses of the HPV vaccine for both boys and girls at 11 or 12 years of age.

Consider these tips being shared at Connecticut Urgent Care Centers and promotion of women’s health services at your own clinic.

Prevention is possible. By taking preventative steps, like regular Pap testing, early detection of any cervical abnormalities is more likely.

Vaccination is vital. HPV has been proven to cause 97% of all cervical cancer in women, according to the National Coalition for Cervical Cancer (NCCC). The HPV vaccine has also been proven as a highly-effective means of cervical cancer prevention.

Because HPV is typically transmitted through sexual skin-to-skin contact, limiting any sexual activity, and/ or practicing safe sex are ways to decrease the risk of cervical cancer and prevent the spread of HPV.

Maintaining overall health is key to a healthy cervix. Leading a healthy lifestyle and keeping proper diet, exercise, and sleep habits, as well restricting or avoiding the use of harmful items like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs all lend to better overall well-being, and potentially limit health issues, like cervical cancer.