Colorado offering free, life-saving cervical cancer tests

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 10:57 AM MST
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DENVER (KKTV) - Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers for women -- and is highly survivable if found early.

Knowing this, the state is offering eligible Coloradans free Pap and HPV tests in effort to save more lives.

“It’s so important to know what is going on with your body by getting a Pap smear,” said Gladys Jones Turnbough of Aurora, who survived a bout of cervical cancer in her early 60s.

The tests are available through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Women’s Wellness Connection program, which operates at more than 100 clinics across the state. The program is open to Coloradans between 21-64 who either don’t have health insurance or have limited insurance and have demonstrated financial need. In addition to Pap and HPV tests, the clinics offer free breast cancer screenings.

“We are working to break down barriers to connect people to free, lifesaving preventive services across the state,” said Women’s Wellness Connection Section Manager Emily Kinsella.

Women in the 21-64 age range are advised to get tested for cervical cancer every three to five years. According to the World Health Organization, it’s the fourth-most frequent cancer in women worldwide but has one of the best outcomes if detected in the early stages. WHO says if found early, 92 percent of those diagnosed can survive. Jones Turnbough’s cancer was discovered during a routine Pap smear.

“For Jones Turnbough, early diagnosis was key to her successful recovery from the deadly disease. After six weeks of intensive treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy, she was officially declared cancer-free,” the state health department said.

That was in 2013, and 10 years later, Jones Turnbough continues to thrive.

“If you have an abnormal Pap smear, find out why and know that there is support,” she said.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.