One local health department is talking with women about a deadly disease they say is preventable.
South Heartland District Health Department Director Michele Bever says that in their four county area of Nebraska, one in every 10,000 people will be diagnosed with cervical cancer.
"It's not huge numbers compared to some other cancers and other illnesses, but it's something that's preventable, so it's something that we wanted to share with the public," she says.
Reducing cancer rates is part of South Heartland's Public Health Improvement Plan, and health officials say that cervical cancer, known as a silent killer, is often advanced before it's detected.
"Cervical cancer, like lots of cancers, tend to hit people more in mid-life and older, so that's an especially acute time to really pay attention to some things," says Public Health Nurse Susan Ferrone.
But Ferrone says all ages should be aware of the risks, and says regular screening is key to early detection and prevention. She says women 21 and older need to be talking to their doctors.
"Each woman should, at their annual exam, ask their provider for a Pap smear and talk to them about what interval then they should be following for those examinations, sometimes people don't even know what's entailed in that exam," says Ferrone.
Ferrone says health care providers can help lower risk factors like smoking, and many physicians recommend the HPV (human papiloma virus) vaccine for middle school ages up to age 26.
"What's not widely as studied currently is that over 26 population, but that gets into a little bit different things in terms of lifestyle and actual risk," she says.
Ferrone says affordability is one reason why women don't get screened, but she says here in Nebraska the "Every Woman Matters" program can help pay for cervical cancer and other women's health exams. To learn more, contact your local health department.