Monday, February 6, 2012

Facebook app personalizes message to women about getting cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccine

To raise awareness about cervical cancer and ways to avoid getting it, the Cervical Cancer-Free Kentucky Initiative has created a Facebook application that "incorporates pictures of users' Facebook pals into an educational video on cervical cancer," reports Darla Carter of The Courier-Journal.

"We want to get the message [to] where we know people are getting their information, and Facebook, Twitter and websites are 'the things'," said Dr. Baretta R. Casey, director of the University of Kentucky initiative.

The application can be found at "Their friends' and family's faces will actually come up into the video," Casey said, to make the subject resonate more with the viewer.

The goal is to educate women about cervical cancer, which can be prevented through screening and the HPV vaccine. The disease is more likely to occur in women over the age of 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are 12,170 new cases of cervical cancer each year and 4,220 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute. The American Cancer Society states there will be 180 new cases in Kentucky this year.

The most common cause of the cancer is the human papilloma virus, which is transmitted sexually. Two HPV vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Right now, this is the only vaccine on the market that can prevent a cancer," Casey said. "I have a daughter and I have a granddaughter, and they have both received the HPV immunization because I don't ever want them to come and look at me and say, 'Mom, why didn't you give me this shot? I wouldn't be going through treatment for cervical cancer now.'"

Women can be screened for the disease with a Pap test, which detects abnormal cells that could lead to cancer. (Read more)

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