Priority Health talks Cervical cancer awareness

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and about 13,000 people are diagnosed with the disease annually.

More than 4,000 die every year from the disease, officials say.

Ann Donnelly, the Vice President of Care Management at Priority Health said early detection is key in the fight against cervical cancer. Pap smears and HPV (Human papillomavirus) screenings can help catch the disease in its early stages.

Donnelly says women between the ages of 21-29 should be tested regularly. All other women should consult their doctor.

79 million people have the HPV virus, which can lead to cancer.

In addition to early detection, safe sex and getting immunized can help protect against the disease too.

Boys and girls from ages 11 and 12 have the best response to the HPV vaccine, although you can receive the vaccine up to age 26.

Priority Health offers free preventative care to its customers. Those who are not insured or under insured can check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for assistance.