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Planned Parenthood releases report to mark Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) released an updated report this week on cervical cancer prevention in Minnesota as part of a long-standing effort to raise awareness about the importance of preventive health care for women, men and teens.

To download the report, go to and hear from PPMNS' health care providers about the need for regular Pap screenings and to learn what's involved in getting the HPV vaccine.

The report, Preventing Cervical Cancer in Minnesota 2012, examines the impact of cervical cancer nationally and in Minnesota and the promise of the HPV vaccine - the first ever cancer prevention vaccine - in keeping women healthy. In the report, PPMNS calls on community health care leaders and policy-makers to come together to educate parents, health care providers and educators about the important benefits of the HPV vaccine in preventing cervical cancer and to ensure that people of color and those living in rural areas have equal access to cervical cancer screenings and HPV vaccinations.

Cervical cancer has historically been one of the most common causes of cancer death for women in the United States. Every year, approximately 13,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,000 American women die of this preventable disease. It is now one of the most preventable gynecological cancers, largely due to effective screening strategies and new vaccinations that can help prevent the leading cause of this type of cancer - the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV.

The HPV vaccine is a major breakthrough in the fight to prevent cervical cancer. It is a safe and effective vaccine that prevents most cases of cervical cancer. Still, more than half of all sexually active people will acquire HPV at some point in their lives. By the age of 50, more than 80 percent of women will have been infected.

The report highlights that in Minnesota:

More than 150 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and around 50 will die from this preventable disease.

Only 33.6 percent of young women are getting the HPV vaccine.

Between 2003 and 2007, women of color were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with or die from invasive cervical cancer than non-Hispanic white women.

"The good news is that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers out there," said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of PPMNS. "When caught early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent."

"This month and every month, we're urging women to put preventive check-ups, including cervical cancer screenings, at the top of their lists," said Stoesz. "But we also know that eradicating this preventable disease requires a robust response from policymakers and community leaders in order to make sure that those in Minnesota who are at the highest risk for cervical cancer and HPV have access to the health care they need."

As the region's most trusted provider of women's health care, more than 60,000 patients annually depend on PPMNS for quality, affordable health care. Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading health care provider and advocate, serving nearly three million patients annually through its health care service providers, and another 1.2 million through educational programs. One in five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life for professional, nonjudgmental, and confidential care.

"We have the ability to help every woman in Minnesota remain healthy and cervical-cancer free," continued Stoesz. "We should be making every possible effort to do so."