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Taking Preventive Measures Against Cervical Cancer

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Taking Preventive Measures Against Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. During this time, AFSPA wants to remind you Cervical Cancer is generally caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and can be prevented by HPV vaccination, regular screening or both.  

One of the main things you can do to prevent cervical cancer is to get the HPV vaccine if you are eligible, usually adults up to age 26 years old. For others, Cervical Cancer can often be detected early by having regular screening tests  according to American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines. These can be found in The American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Prevention and Early Detection of Cervical Cancer. If detected early, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable cancers1. 

Additional recommendations The American Cancer Society recommends for detecting cervical cancer early include:  

  • Cervical cancer testing (screening) should begin at age 25. 
  • Those aged 25 to 65 should have a primary HPV test* every 5 years. If primary HPV testing is not available, screening may be done with either a co-test that combines an HPV test with a Papanicolaou (Pap) test every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years.  
  • Those over age 65 who have had regular screening in the past 10 years with normal results and no history of CIN2 – abnormal cells found on the surface of the cervix – or more serious diagnosis within the past 25 years should stop cervical cancer screening. Once stopped, it should not be started again. 
  • People who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) should stop screening (such as Pap tests and HPV tests), unless the hysterectomy was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer. People who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix (called a supra-cervical hysterectomy) should continue cervical cancer screening according to the guidelines above. 
  • People who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow these guidelines for their age groups. 

Overall, the most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly.  

How AFSPA Can Help 

Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) members ages 18+ can earn $25 in wellness rewards by completing a cervical cancer screening. A cervical cancer screening is covered 100% when you visit an in-network provider in the 50 United States. FSBP covers 70% of the Plan allowance and any difference between our allowance and the billed amount when you visit an out-of-network provider. For our members living abroad, overseas providers are treated as in-network, so cervical cancer screenings are covered at 100%.  

You can earn more wellness rewards when completing other preventive services such receiving a full COVID-19 vaccination, completing a breast cancer screening, receiving the flu shot, or completing other healthy action items and programs from our Simple Steps to Living Well Together Program.  

The wellness rewards you earn will be applied as Wellness Incentive Fund Account credits to help reimburse you for Eligible Medical Expenses like your deductible, coinsurance, and copayments, as defined by IRS Code Section 213(d). Members 18+ and older can obtain each reward once per calendar year. 

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