January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

By: Jeff Ash

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Blue Cervical Cancer Ribbon

Everyone knows pink ribbons call attention to breast cancer awareness. But January is a time for teal ribbons for women’s health, a time to call attention to Cervical Health Awareness Month.


Almost 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States each year. The good news is that cervical cancer is preventable by getting the HPV vaccine and undergoing Pap and HPV tests.


HPV, or human papillomavirus, causes cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine prevents at least 80 percent of all cervical cancers. The younger you are when you get the HPV vaccine, the better.


The best time for girls to get the HPV vaccine is from age 9 to age 15 because it builds the best immune response at those ages, says Dr. Peter R. Johnson, an Aurora BayCare gynecologic oncologist. After that, and up to age 26, it can take a three-dose series to build the desired immune response.


“For some women who aren’t covered by the HPV vaccine – certain HPV types aren’t covered – we can pick those up and prevent cancer by doing a routine Pap test,” Johnson says.


A Pap test can find cell changes to the cervix that are caused by HPV. An HPV test finds the virus and helps determine which women are at the highest risk for cervical cancer. A combined Pap/HPV test is recommended for women 30 and over.


“Every woman between the age of 21 and 65 should have a Pap test, provided they haven’t had a hysterectomy or cervical cancer,” Johnson says. During that time, women should have a Pap test every three years. If they combine a Pap test with an HPV test, it’s every five years.


One more thing. Don’t smoke, Johnson says. Smokers have a much higher chance of getting cervical cancer than non-smokers.


Johnson was the first surgeon to perform robotic-assisted gynecologic cancer surgery in Wisconsin. He has performed more than 2,000 robotic-assisted surgeries and is renowned for his expertise in complex surgical cases.


Johnson removes benign and/or cancerous cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar masses via robotic-assisted surgery.


The benefits of robotic-assisted surgery include shorter recovery time, shorter hospital stays, significantly less pain, less bleeding and scarring, and a reduced risk of infection or other complications.


Dr. Peter R. Johnson sees patients in Green Bay and Neenah. To request an appointment, call 844-260-3002 or do so online.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.