January marks Cervical Cancer Awareness month; Idaho 50th in the nation for screening

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the Gem State ranks 50th in the nation for cervical cancer screening.

Richard Hymas, a radiation oncologist with St. Luke's, said cervical cancer develops slowly.

"Recommendations for screening would be everybody over the age of 21 and under the age of 65, should be screened once every three years," Hymas said.

He said the cancer can develop from the human papillomavirus.

"In greater than 90 percent of cases," he added.

Hymas said that in the United States, approximately 75 percent of patients who are diagnosed with cervical cancer are still alive five years later.

"The treatment and curate is still reasonably good and that rate is higher when it’s caught earlier and it’s lower when it’s caught later," he explained.

There is a vaccination for HPV which is available for men and women.

"The benefits of vaccination don’t just protect the individual but also a herd immunity effect where if you can vaccinate a higher portion of the population, the entire population benefits, including those who do not have access to the vaccine or those who don’t take that vaccine and it doesn’t work for them," he said.

The most common symptoms for cervical cancer would be abnormal bleeding or discomfort in that area.

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