Health Notes
     

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

By Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health

(TriceEdneyWire.com) - There have been many events within the past decade that have brought certain mental health conditions, especially post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to the forefront of Americans' discussions about health. With wars being fought in the Middle East and Afghanistan, devastating natural disasters striking the gulf coast and other areas of the country, and violent acts occurring all around the country and the world, it is no surprise that the numbers of persons diagnosed with mental illness continues to increase.

The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) definition of PTSD is: an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

Most often, persons who are involved in traumatic events have a brief period of difficulty coping with the event, but with proper treatment and time, they usually get better. However, sometimes the effects of the event can last for months or years, and make it very difficult for a person to live a normal life.

What are the symptoms of PTSD? NIMH states that symptoms of PTSD commonly appear within the first three months of the traumatic event, but sometimes they may not occur until weeks, months or even years after the event. There are three common categories of PTSD symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance/numbing, and hyperarousal (extremely heightened emotions). According to NIMH, re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person's everyday routine, can start from the person's own thoughts and feelings, and words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing. Avoidance symptoms often cause a person to largely change their personal routine. Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind a person of the event.

Common symptoms include: Re-experiencing; Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time; Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event; and avoidance/numbing.

Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include: Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event; feeling emotionally numb; avoiding activities you once enjoyed; hopelessness about the future; memory problems; trouble concentrating; difficulty maintaining close relationships; hyperarousal; rritability or anger; overwhelming guilt or shame; self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much; trouble sleeping; being easily startled or frightened; and hearing/seeing things that aren't there.

What is the treatment for PTSD?

The most common treatments for PTSD are talk therapy (also known as psychotherapy) and medications - sometimes both. It is important to remember that while one type of treatment works for one person, it may not work for another, so it is essential to be treated by a mental health professional who can determine what is best for an individual.

It is also important to remember that it is normal to have experience many different feelings after you have experienced a traumatic event. These feelings may cause you anxiety or fear, affect your sleeping or eating patterns, or even cause nightmares or crying, among other feelings.

Traumatic events affect everyone differently. However, if you notice that you or a loved one have symptoms that persist for more than a month, the symptoms are severe, or you are having difficulty being able to return to your normal life, you should talk to a mental health professional. If you think you or a loved one are in danger of hurting yourself/themselves or others, you should call 911 immediately. If you need help finding mental health providers in your area, please call our toll free number below.

Do you need further information or have questions or comments about this article? Please call toll-free 1-877-530-1824. Or, for more information about the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity please visit our website: http://www.wfubmc. edu/MACHE

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Wilmington Journal


African-American Communities Working With National Cancer Institute to Address Disparities

by the National Cancer Institute

(TriceEdneyWire.com) - Deep in the heart of the South, a cadre of researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham is taking a personal approach to investigating cancer. While work continues to go on in traditional laboratory settings where cells and microbes are studied on slides under the intense light of microscopes, the fight against cancer also involves communicating with and listening to people.

That means talking with local African-American residents about the disease and its impact on their lives to determine education and awareness gaps. It’s also about sharing cancer knowledge with the community, relying on the communications channels that people know and trust, and identifying resources people can turn to for help and information, all in a culturally appropriate way.

When it comes to researching and confronting cancer, all populations are different. There are different factors that influence the course and outcome of the disease, different cancer burdens, and even different ways of dealing with a cancer diagnosis due to cultural norms and a person’s background.

This is where the National Cancer Institute’s Community Networks Program (CNP) comes into play. NCI is supporting an array of community-based cancer control programs that focus on cancer disparities in communities serving African-American and other racial/ethnic and underserved populations. The University of Alabama-Birmingham program, called the Deep South Network, is one of the CNP initiatives that work to improve cancer outcomes within the African-American community. It serves the Mississippi delta and the Alabama black belt.

The key to success in the CNP is Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR). CBPR is a research approach that mandates a partnership between traditionally trained "experts" and members of a community, with all parties addressing a common research problem. This approach requires the community to be a full research partner, participating in planning, developing, implementing, evaluating, and disseminating the research. Community members are actively engaged with the local research team and the federal partners in cancer education, training, and research initiatives within community boundaries.

In 2005, the NCI created CNP by investing $95 million in five-year grants to various cancer research institutions located in 25 Posted November 2010 communities. The mission is to develop participatory education, training, and research programs.

Some typical CNP services that help African Americans confront cancer include:

• Providing transportation to people in Greene and Sumter counties in Alabama, who have to travel at least 30 miles to see a doctor;

• Promoting a healthier lifestyle through a neighborhood Walk Campaign;

• Utilizing the services of the CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), which provides access to critical breast and cervical cancer screening services for underserved women in the United States.

• Recruiting local churches to participate in NCI’s Body & Soul program to encourage the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables;

• Counseling individuals through "There is Hope"; and

• Preparing for life after cancer.

The Deep South Network is reaching far and wide, cutting a broad swath through 22 counties in Alabama and Mississippi, with the help of 550 well trained community workers and 460 others from various groups in the community. Other cancer control outreach programs that focus on the African American population are based in South Carolina, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida, Massachusetts, and Missouri.

You may live in or near one of these CNPs and be completely unaware of the services and resources that may be available to you. While some CNP sites work with African American communities, the 25 programs nationwide benefit other underserved racial groups, such as Native American, Native Alaskan, Asian, and Pacific Islander, as well as groups classified by ethnicity, such as Hispanic/Latino.

The cultural aspects of the CNP cannot be overestimated. A key understanding of social and cultural norms is important to the work that goes on every day. For example, through understanding of the importance of the black church in America, especially in the South, the Deep South Network was able to successfully find a way to bring health issues into the structure of African American churches. You can learn more about the Deep South Network and the CNP on the World Wide Web at the following sites:

http://crchd.cancer.gov/cnp/pi-partridge-description.html

http://crchd.cancer.gov/cnp/overview.htmlPosted November 2010

Also, the Cancer Information Service is just a phone call away, 1-800-4-CANCER. Calling that number will connect you with a specialist who can advise you or recommend resources to learn more about cancer.

By the National Cancer Institute


Some Hospitals Open ERs Just for Graying Patients

WASHINGTON (TriceEdneyWire.com) - Many hospitals run emergency rooms just for children. Now a few are opening ERs specially designed for seniors without all the confusion and clamor and with a little more comfort.

It's a fledgling trend, but expected to increase as the population rapidly grays. The question is whether they'll truly improve care.

"Older people are not just wrinkly adults. They have totally different needs," says Dr. David John, who chairs the geriatric medicine division of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Modern ERs are best equipped to handle crises like gunshot wounds or car crashes, not the lengthy detective work it can take to unravel the multiple ailments that older people tend to show up with, John says.

Those older patients may not even have the same symptoms as younger people. They're less likely to report chest pain with a heart attack, for instance, complaining instead of vague symptoms such as dizziness or nausea. Urinary tract infections sometimes cause enough confusion to be mistaken for dementia.

And a study published in January called delirium and dementia an "invisible hazard" for many older patients because ERs don't routinely check for not-too-obvious cognitive problems - yet such patients can't accurately describe their symptoms or understand what they're supposed to do at home.

Seniors already make 17 million ER visits a year, and one in five Americans will be 65 or older by 2030.

St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., started a 14-bed Senior Emergency Center two years ago, and plans to open a larger one in the fall, said emergency medicine chairman Dr. Mark Rosenberg.

"It's still hustle and bustle, but it's a couple notches down from the craziness of the main emergency department," he says.

The idea behind senior ERs: Put older patients in an area that's a bit calmer for team-based care to not just treat the problem that brought them to the hospital, but to uncover underlying problems - from depression to dementia to a home full of tripping hazards that might bring them back.

Rosenberg has documented a big drop in the number of seniors who make return visits since his center began day-after-discharge calls to monitor how they're doing.

There's no official count, but at least a dozen self-designated senior ERs have opened around the country since the first in Silver Spring, Md., in 2008. The one in Maryland and eight in Michigan are operated by Catholic health system Trinity Health of Novi, Mich., which plans to open two in Iowa later this year, followed by more in other states.

How does it work? Seniors still enter through the main ER, where triage nurses decide if they have an immediately life-threatening condition. Those patients stay in the regular ER with all its bells and whistles. But other seniors get the option of heading for these new special zones.

"It's a very nurturing environment," says nurse practitioner Michelle Moccia, who heads the senior ER at Trinity's St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, Mich.

There, doors instead of curtains separate beds, tamping down the noise that can increase anxiety, confusion and difficulty communicating.

Nurses carry "pocket talkers," small amplifiers that hook to headphones so they don't have to yell if a patient's hard of hearing.

Mattresses are thicker, and patients who don't need to lay flat can opt for cushy reclining chairs instead; Moccia says people feel better when they can stay upright. Nonskid floors guard against falls. Forms are printed in larger type, to help patients read their care instructions when it's time to go home. Pharmacists automatically check if patients' routine medications could cause dangerous interactions. A geriatric social worker is on hand to arrange for Meals on Wheels or other resources.

"In the senior unit, they're just a lot more gentle," says Betty Barry, 87, of White Lake, Mich., who recently went to another of Trinity's senior ERs while suffering debilitating hip pain.

But Moccia says the real change comes because nurses and doctors undergo training to dig deeper into patients' lives. While they're awaiting test results or treatments, every senior gets checked for signs of depression, dementia or delirium.

An example: A diabetic was treated for low blood sugar in a regular ER. A few weeks later she was back, but the newly opened senior ER uncovered that dementia was making her mess up her insulin dose, repeatedly triggering the problem, says Dr. Bill Thomas, a geriatrician at the University of Maryland Baltimore County who is advising Trinity Health Novi's senior ER program.

It doesn't take opening a separate ER to improve older patients' care, says New Jersey's Rosenberg, who calls better overall geriatric awareness and training the real key. Still, he says his center saw a 15 percent rise in patients last year.

"Those hospitals that have the money and space and the luxury to do something like that are going to get a definite advantage down the road," predicts John at the American College of Emergency Physicians, who says his own Boston hospital didn't have the money to try it.

Hospital Closings Jeopardize Care in Minority Communities by Marjorie Valbrun

By Marjorie Valbrun

CLEVELAND (TriceEdneyWire.com) —Escalated hospital closures in urban communities are raising concern about whether minorities can receive quality health care, especially trauma treatment, when emergency care facilities are miles from their neighborhoods.

Public officials in Cleveland and neighboring East Cleveland are waging a legal dispute with the renowned Cleveland Clinic, which sought to close a local trauma center. Other municipalities nationwide are taking steps to prevent hospitals from closing or moving to wealthier suburbs.

Public health advocates have long decried the steady closures of so-called safety-net hospitals in communities populated by people of color with low or moderate incomes. For at least three decades, these advocates have joined community activists, social scientists and beleaguered city and county officials in warning that this trend threatens health outcomes in communities that need hospitals most. Poor neighborhoods frequently have higher rates of uninsured or underinsured residents with serious health care needs and less access to private health care services.

“This problem has been escalating dramatically and is a consequence of a system where health care is a market commodity that is bought and sold by those who can afford it,” says Brian D. Smedley, vice president and director of the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C.

“Those who can afford it get it, and those who can’t struggle to get care, often at a lesser quality. It will escalate as the health care crisis worsens and a population that has higher health care needs and health care problems gets worse and worse and ends up in emergency rooms to get treatment at much greater costs that we all will have to bear.”

About half of the nation’s 50 million uninsured are people of color, many with jobs that provide no insurance or just nominal coverage offering very little protection in case of a health crisis or hospitalization.

Smedley says reduced state and federal government subsidies to hospitals have aggravated the closure problem. Although the health care reform law will eventually expand insurance coverage to more people and help hospitals recoup costs for uncompensated care, more cuts to federal payments to hospitals with high uninsured patient loads will pay for the expansion. Additionally, the law doesn’t take effect for three years and would still leave about 18 million people uninsured.

“It’s unclear what the long-term implications will be, but we know it’s better to make sure people get health care and access to local primary care physicians and health clinics and hospitals so they don’t get sick enough to need hospitals,” Smedley says.

Such warnings have done little to slow closures or stem hospitals’ exodus from urban centers to wealthier suburban communities, or from mostly minority suburban neighborhoods to predominantly white ones. Very often, these hospitals were publicly funded or nonprofits whose administrators insisted that other area hospitals would pick up the slack.

Advocates say this has not happened. Hospitals have closed or are planned for closure in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, St. Louis, New York, Washington and many parts of New Jersey. Detroit has lost more than 1,200 hospital beds since 1998 because of closures and has no public hospital. Nor does Philadelphia. Physicians who worked for closed hospitals and had local offices or offered outpatient services locally often leave with them. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says closures have created considerable health care gaps for those reliant on the hospitals.

A 2005 report by the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center on hospital care in the 100 largest U.S. cities and their suburbs found that “more public hospitals were lost between 1996 and 2002 (16 percent in cities and 27 percent in the suburbs) than for-profit (11 percent in cities and 11 percent in suburbs) and non-profit hospitals (11 percent in cities and 2 percent in the suburbs).” The authors said the findings contrasted starkly with the relatively moderate decline in the number of hospitals nationwide. The report also found that hospitals underserve high-poverty suburbs while low-poverty suburbs brim with them.

“Public hospitals may become an endangered species,” Dennis Andrulis, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, concluded.

In the late 1990s, researchers at Boston University School of Public Health reviewed data on acute care hospitals in 52 large and midsize U.S. cities from 1936 through the mid-1990s and found that nearly 28 percent of them had closed between 1980 and 1997. They concluded that “the pattern of hospital closings in U.S. cities in recent decades may have damaged access to care generally, may have had an adverse and disproportionate impact on minority Americans specifically, and may even have increased the cost of health care.”

Lynne Fagnani, senior vice president of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems in Washington, says sustaining urban hospitals requires “state support, but with the recession, they have lost that. With more low-income people getting health care coverage in 2014, we’re going to need a strong safety-net health care system . . . that can serve these populations.”

Until that happens, problems “will get worse not better,” says Ellen Kugler, executive director of the National Association of Urban Hospitals. “Nonprofit safety-net hospitals are very fearful for their future. These are longstanding community hospitals that have stayed committed to and served these communities for decades.

“Many are religiously founded and have a mission to stay and serve . . . . They don’t want to leave, but at some point, you have to be able to pay your staffs, keep electricity on, modernize your buildings and have an electronic filing system. That all costs millions of dollars that they have to find somewhere.”

Kugler says some hospitals have downsized, becoming just drug and alcohol treatment centers, for instance, or long-term care centers. Others have opened branches in wealthy suburban areas with a well-insured patient base to help offset costs at urban locations.

Hospitals “are looking at tens of millions in lost revenue, and it’s hard to see sustainability,” she says. “These hospitals are older, they need more repairs and infrastructure updates. How can you plan for the future, fix a boiler, fix the 50-year-old heating and air conditioning system? How do you get new technology, or a new MRI machine or pay staff?

Community residents and their advocates are organizing neighborhoods, holding protest rallies, enlisting help from civil rights organizations and seeking injunctions to prevent or delay closures. At a minimum, hospital administrators find that they can’t just leave without being accountable to people they served. They’re also more mindful of potential public relations pitfalls.

In September, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center voluntarily agreed to provide temporary primary and urgent-care services in Braddock, Pa., and neighboring communities after a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of African-Americans alleging civil rights violations. The complaint said closing UPMC’s Braddock hospital hurt residents’ ability to obtain health care because they depend on public transportation and would face time-consuming commutes to neighboring hospitals.

Cleveland Clinic administrators temporarily delayed closing a local trauma center after the mayors of Cleveland and East Cleveland filed suit in October. Four other local hospitals had shut down over the last decade. The clinic planned to move trauma services from Huron Hospital, which serves neighborhoods in both cities, to a suburban area. The mayors withdrew the suit after clinic representatives agreed to keep the Huron center open while both sides seek a solution “that would continue to meet the needs of area residents.” Each retained the right to return to court if no compromise is reached.

Edward Eckart, commissioner of Cleveland’s Emergency Medical Service Division, says the best solution is to keep the center open.

“The hospital is a significant resource for us and specifically for trauma patients,” he says, noting that 65 percent of trauma injuries treated there originate near the hospital. “ . . .To move the trauma center to a farther eastern suburb that has a very low incidence of traumatic events just doesn’t make sense.”

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati NAACP reacted strongly when Mercy Health Partners announced plans to close two city hospitals and relocate another it had recently purchased to a wealthier suburb. Representatives of Catholic Healthcare Partners, to which Mercy belongs, agreed to attend the NAACP’s local general meeting to explain the rationale for the closures.

“What is currently unfolding before our eyes is Mercy Health System’s urban Cincinnati divestment strategy, weakening safety net services to the poor,” Christopher Smitherman, president of the Cincinnati NAACP, wrote by e-mail to a Catholic Health Partners representative. “This behavior is antithetical to an appropriate community service ethic and contrary to any hospital vision, mission and values statement that I know of, because it injures the poor and those who are most vulnerable in our society.”

David Hayes-Bautista, a professor of medicine at UCLA and director of its Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, says current hospital closures echo California’s experience in the late 1960s when about 40 county hospitals closed.

“Since then, public hospitals have been closing at a rapid clip,” he says. “There are no more than five or six counties remaining that operate their own public hospitals. There’s been sort of an implosion of public hospitals, and the counties have been getting out of that business for the last few years.”

When Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in Los Angeles’ predominately Latino South Central neighborhood closed almost two years ago, Hayes-Bautista says, patient loads but not the budgets of the four remaining county public hospitals increased.

Vernellia Randall, a professor of health care law at the University of Dayton School of Law and author of “Dying While Black,” a book about racial disparities in health care, says the problem of hospital closures in black neighborhoods began in the 1930s.

“Back then, there were more than 200 hospitals located in minority neighborhoods,” she says. “You’d be lucky to find 20 now. The problem is becoming more obvious and getting more attention now because they’re beginning to close hospitals in communities that, although they have large numbers of blacks, also have a large percentage of whites, where before it was primarily in very poor, predominantly black communities.”

Updated research in 2001 at Boston University School of Public Health showed that “about half of the hospitals open in 1936 in neighborhoods that were less than 20 percent African American or Latino in 1990 remained open in 1997, while only about 30 percent of the hospitals located in neighborhoods that were 80 percent or more minority in 1990 remained open in 1997.”

Randall, a former nurse practitioner, says hospitals that left white or diverse urban communities moved to predominantly white suburbs.

“There used to be a time where you could count on government hospitals, but they have been turned over to nonprofits,” she says. “Under the law, nonprofit does not mean charity. They’re not giving away free health care. At public hospitals, they could not turn you away.”

Randall says legal actions such as that against the Cleveland Clinic are counterproductive and bound to lose in court because no law requires hospitals to have trauma centers or be located in certain neighborhoods. “The argument that this has a discriminatory impact is not really legally recognized as a form of racism,” she says. “Our laws are totally inadequate in dealing with institutional racism.”

Randall says cities should complain to a federal civil rights agency that could sue a hospital. States could also pass legislation limiting hospital closures, but their lawmakers have shown little interest in doing so.

Hospital closures are not likely to ebb soon, Smedley says. “If anything, it will continue to grow until the health care law provisions kick in in 2014 . . . until then, we have reasons to be concerned that hospitals will continue operating in the red.”
Special to Trice Edney News Wire from America’s Wire


Lymph Node Study May Change Breast Cancer Treatment

(TriceEdneyWire.com) - According to a new study, early breast cancer patients may not need multiple lymph nodes removed, a common practice used to prevent the spread of tumors.

The research, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association Feb. 9, found that the procedure does not increase survival rates of women with early stages of the cancer.

During the painful treatment that can lead to swelling, discomfort and numbness, physicians cut out cancerous lymph node tissues from the armpit. Medical researchers say the underarm is the first place invasive cancer spreads.

Lymph node removal has been commonplace for 100 years, ever since doctors began performing mastectomies. Yet, the new study’s 10 researchers concluded it might be more detrimental than beneficial because of risks associated with the surgery, and the minimal variation in survival rates between women who have the procedure and those that do not.

For a little over six years, the researchers followed 891 early breast cancer patients receiving treatment in 115 different medical centers.

The women were subjected to lumpectomies and radiation or chemotherapy to treat their tumors and had biopsies that revealed one or two cancerous lymph nodes. Some were randomly selected to have 10 or more additional nodes removed; for others, the nodes were not removed. Six years later, the cancer recurrence and survival rates for both groups were almost the same, the researchers said. .

Researchers say this means that for women with very small tumors in the early stage of the disease--about 20 per cent or 40,000 patients a year--need no more than one or two lymph nodes removed for quick evaluations.

“This is such a radical change in thought that it’s been hard for many people to get their heads around it,” Dr. Monica Morrow, one of the study’s authors, told The New York Times.

Nonetheless, some medical centers are already rethinking the procedure based on the findings. A spokeswoman said oncologists at Johns Hopkins Hospital called a meeting soon after learning the study’s conclusions back in September.

Spokeswoman Vanessa Wasta said Hopkins physicians now allow breast cancer patients to opt out of lymph node removal if they met the qualifications.

“This can significantly improve the clinical outcome of patients by reducing the complications associated with complete nodal dissection without a negative effect on survival or local recurrence,” Dr. Mehran Habibi, assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins said in a Hopkins blogpost.

It is still unclear if the findings can apply to other forms of cancer or if lymph node removal is still necessary for patients who have not undergone chemotherapy or radiation.


Protect Yourself from Cervical Cancer


By the National Cancer Institute

(TriceEdneyWire.com) - Cervical cancer is in many ways unlike other cancers. It strikes women in midlife when they are often taking care of families. Cervical cancer is also one of the few types of cancers that is caused by a virus.

Fortunately, cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and also, when caught and treated early, one of the most curable cancers. Now is the perfect time to educate yourself about this disease and what you can do to protect yourself.

Every year in the United States, more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,000 women die from the disease. More African American women die from cervical cancer than any other racial group in the United States. It is time to stand up to this disease and change these statistics. It is especially important for African American women to learn how to prevent this disease.

One of the most important steps in preventing cervical cancer is to have regular Pap tests. The Papanicolaou test (sometimes called Pap smear or cervical smear) is used to find cell changes in the cervix that can be treated before they turn into cervical cancer. A Pap test also can find cancer early. The earlier that cervical cancer is found, the easier it is to treat. A Pap test is usually painless and is easily done in a doctor’s office or clinic during a pelvic exam.

A test for human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer, is also available. The HPV test can be useful for screening for cervical cancer in women age 30 and older when done together with a Pap test. It can also be used for women of all ages who have certain abnormal Pap test results. There are over 100 types of HPV, more than 30 of which can spread through genital contact. Some sexually transmitted HPV types cause genital warts, and others cause cervical cancer. The HPV test examines cervical cells for the types of HPV that cause cancer.

Genital HPV infections are very common and are sexually transmitted. Many people who have an HPV infection may not be aware of it. Most HPV infections occur without any symptoms or problems and go away on their own without leading to cancer. Some infections can persist for many years and may or may not cause cell changes. Infections that cause cell changes can increase the risk for developing cervical cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two vaccines, Gardasil® and Cervarix®, to prevent infection with the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. Gardasil Posted November 2010 also protects against infection with the HPV types that cause most genital warts. Both vaccines are most effective if they are given before an individual is sexually active. Gardasil is approved for use in females and males ages 9 through 26, and Cervarix is approved for use in females ages 10 through 25. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine HPV vaccination of females aged 11 or 12 years with three doses of HPV vaccine (vaccination can begin at age 9). HPV vaccination is also recommended for females aged 13 through 26 years who have not been previously vaccinated or who have not completed the full vaccination series. It is important to talk to your doctor or health care provider to determine if the vaccine is right for you or a loved one. You can learn more about the HPV vaccine at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/risk/HPV-vaccine.

Due to routine screening, cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States have declined greatly over the last few decades. You too can protect yourself from this devastating disease. The National Cancer Institute is available to help by offering the latest news and information about cervical and other cancers. To learn more, call 1-800-4-CANCER to speak with a Cancer Information Specialist. If you prefer to search the Internet, visit the primary Spanish language Web site of the NCI, www.cancer.gov/espanol. Our site links you to a wide variety of cancer education and awareness materials, from publications to updates about research. Now is the time to take action and live a healthier life!

NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at www.cancer.gov or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

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