January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

The Kauai Breast and Cervical Prevention Program has provided services to local women for over 19 years, with critical life saving cancer prevention exams. How does this work:

BCCCP Overview

• Serves women age 40 to 64 years of age

• Pays for annual mammogram screening w/interpretation

• Pays for clinical examinations and pap test

• Pays for breast and cervical diagnostic tests, biopsy and surgical consultation

• Provides one-to-one breast health education

• Provides case management services

If necessary, provides referral to The BCCCP Treatment Act for women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer – paying for treatment and transportation

BCCCP program highlights

• “One-Stop-Shop” complete screenings in one visit

• Friendly, culturally sensitive staff

• Hawaiian, Ilocano and Tagalog translators available through Ho’ola Lahui Hawaii and the Kauai District Health Office Bi-lingual health aids

• Appointment scheduling, annual reminders, follow-up and case management

• Patient navigator to escort clients to appointments and provide health education

How Do Women Qualify?

BCCCP serves women 40 to 64 with a generous income requirement of 250 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify.

Women who are uninsured women or underinsured women (those who have insurance but can not afford deductible or copay)

How Much Does It Cost?

All breast and cervical screening and diagnostic services are paid for by BCCCP

BCCCP enrolled women qualifying for BCCCP treatment act are pre-qualified for Med-Quest if diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer

Cervical Cancer and Pap Smear

A pelvic exam and pap smear are tests that are a critical part to the Kauai BCCCP cancer prevention. Most women are aware of this important procedure, but are not aware of why and how important it is.

Cervical cancer was once a leading cause of death among American women. That changed when the pap smear became widely available. This test allowed doctors to find precancerous changes in a woman’s cervix and treat them.

Cervical cancer, HPV

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). There are a number of different strains of HPV. Only certain types are associated with cervical cancer. The two most common types that cause cancer are HPV-16 and HPV-18. Infection with a cancer-causing strain of HPV does not mean you will get cervical cancer. The immune system eliminates the vast majority of HPV infections. Most people are rid of the virus within two years. However, HPV is extremely common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than half of all sexually active men and women will get infected during their lifetime.

HPV can also cause other cancers in women and men.

However, the two most common cancer-causing strains of HPV are preventable by vaccine. Vaccination is most effective before a person becomes sexually active. Both boys and girls can be vaccinated against HPV.

The risk of HPV transmission can also be reduced by practicing safe sex. However, condoms cannot prevent all HPV infections. The virus can also be transmitted from skin to skin.

What is the outlook for cervical cancer?

Routine Pap smears are important. Caught early, cervical cancer is very treatable. Precancerous changes are often caught and treated before cervical cancer can develop. Testing and treatment stops cervical cancer before it starts. According to the ACS, the majority of American women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer have either never had a pap smear or not had one in the last five years.

Call the Kauai BCCCP 245-7767 to determine if you qualify.

This is a program servicing the Kauai community by Hoola Lahui Hawaii.

David Lehn is with Hoola Lahui Hawaii.

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