Clovis doctor urges women to screen for cervical cancer after decline during pandemic

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Throughout the pandemic, a lot of people have put preventative health care on pause.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there's been a sharp decline in cervical cancer screenings.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed among women.

Dr. Jill Mason with Kaiser Permanente in Clovis, said it's also preventable and treatable.

"We can detect it in early stages with adequate screening and we can even vaccinate against the HPV virus," she said.

HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the United States, and it's the cause of most cervical cancer cases.

However, due to the pandemic, health officials have seen fewer women come in for their screenings, which means there could be many undiagnosed cases.

"I think we'll see a blip of cervical cancer, unfortunately, because of the disruption in screening," Dr. Mason said. "So we're going to double down on efforts to get women back into the office for screening. We're going to double down on the emphasis on vaccination against the HPV virus."

Dr. Mason encourages parents to get their kids vaccinated against HPV around 11 or 12 years old.

Women, ages 21-65, should also get a cervical cancer screening every three years, in order to find any abnormalities on the cervix. In its early stages, cervical cancer has no symptoms.

"It's often a silent condition," explained Dr. Mason.

If an abnormality is detected, Dr. Mason said it can be treated and removed, which is why she stresses regular screenings.

Kaiser Permanente is making efforts to bring women in for screenings by offering Saturday clinics and adding more providers to increase access.

Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.