NEW YORK, (CBS Newspath) – January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a disease that’s treatable if picked up early with screening, and preventable with the HPV vaccine.
CBS’s Michael George spoke with a cancer survivor about her advice for women.
When Nora Lindo Salmon started feeling intense abdomen pain last year, she went to the doctor. The mother and grandmother learned she had advanced cervical cancer.
“They said I have cancer, and I said I don’t believe it’s still cancer,” Salmon said.
The Jamaica native had not been getting regular gynecological exams.
“Unfortunately, though, many women, especially underserved women, have not seen physicians and they don’t get regular screening,” Dr. Stella Lymberis, a radiation oncologist at NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center said.
Dr. Stella Lymberis said cervical cancer is treatable- if detected early. In Nora’s case she, had five weeks of chemotherapy and internal radiation treatment called brachytherapy.
“It’s the safest way to deliver radiation so that we can reduce side effects, and it involves using an applicator such as this. (showing device),” Dr. Lymberis added.
A new American Cancer Society report estimates about (13,690) 14-thousand new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year and (4,310) more than four-thousand women will die from the disease.
Death rates have dropped significantly with increased use of the pap test and the report shows a 65-percent reduction in cervical cancer rates in women in their early 20s.
That’s after the introduction of the HPV vaccine, which protects against the human papillomavirus which causes cervical cancer.
“Today, I am wonderful. I’m feeling wonderful,” Salmon said.
Salmon finished her treatment in June and is currently disease free. She’s now encouraging women to get their annual exams and screening.
“I would tell them not to be afraid. Not to be afraid. Be strong. Make the first step,” Salmon said.
The American Cancer Society says higher HPV vaccination rates have the potential to virtually eliminate cervical cancer.