Nurses spreading the word on getting tested for cervical cancer

MARSHALL — Liz Bunjer and Katie Kuehl, both registered nurses, want people to know that the United States Congress has designated January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. The recognition is a chance to spread the word on how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 12,578 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease is preventable with vaccinations and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests).

“Women should get a Pap smear when it’s age appropriate,” Bunjer said. “Twenty-one years of age is the recommended age for a first Pap smear.”

Bunjer and Kuehl work out of the Marshall SMOC (Southwestern Minnesota Opportunity Council) clinic on South Fifth Street.

Women can get Pap smears at any clinic or SMOC, which has a sliding fee scale and also takes all major insurance.

The reason people need to get vaccinated against HPV is because “HPV can go away or it can lead to cervical cancer,” Bunjer said.

The Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening tests available, according to the CDC.

A clinician comes to SMOC twice a month to give Pap smears, said Kuehl.

The SMOC clinic offers a variety of medical services for men and women.

“If anyone has questions, they should give us a call,” said Kuehl. “We are more than happy to answer them or if we can’t, we’ll find someone who can.”

For more information, call 537-1950.