(NewsUSA) - Staying healthy can be easier when done with a friend. That's the idea behind the new "Take the Pearl Pledge" program to fight cervical cancer.
"Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer in women worldwide. This year in the United States, more than 11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 women will die of this preventable disease," said Tamika Felder, cervical cancer survivor and founder of the nonprofit organization, Tamika and Friends, the lead U.S. partner in the Pearl of Wisdom Campaign to Prevent Cervical Cancer. "We want women to learn about cervical cancer prevention and then share what they know with other women."
The following, according to the Pearl of Wisdom campaign, is what every woman should know:
* Girls and young women: Ask your health care provider about the HPV vaccine, which protects against the two types of HPV (human papillomavirus) that cause the majority of cervical cancers. The vaccines are recommended for girls 11 to 12 years old and are approved for girls and young women up to age 26. Even women who have been vaccinated will still need to be screened.
* Women age 21 or older: Get the Pap test, which detects abnormal cells that can lead to cervical cancer.
* Women age 30 or older: Get the Pap and HPV tests together as part of routine cervical cancer screening. The HPV test detects the virus that causes cervical cancer, identifying those women at increased risk who will need to be monitored more closely.
"Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is almost always preventable because we know what causes it and we have the tools available -- the Pap test, the HPV test and the HPV vaccine -- to prevent this cancer," said Susan Wysocki, WHNP-BC, FAANP, president and CEO of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, a partner in the Pearl of Wisdom campaign.
For the "Take the Pearl Pledge" initiative, women can go to www.PearlofWisdom.us/Pledge where they can commit to schedule their annual gynecologic exam; wear a Pearl of Wisdom, the global symbol for cervical cancer prevention; and share cervical cancer prevention information with others. Pearl of Wisdom pins can be purchased through the campaign, with all proceeds benefiting U.S. cervical cancer prevention activities.