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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

West Side Hospital Offers Free Screenings Throughout Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Free walk-in cervical cancer screenings are available to West Side women who are uninsured or underinsured.

Loretto Hospital on Tuesday morning.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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AUSTIN — In recognition of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, West Side residents can get a free screening for the disease.

West Side residents who are uninsured or underinsured can visit Loretto Hospital at 645 S. Central Ave. 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday for a free screening. Screenings are free through the end of January, and appointments are not needed.

“Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer and, if detected early, is one of the most successfully treatable cancers,” said Dr. Heather Bergdahl, chief transformation officer at The Loretto Hospital.

Cervical cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of the disease, since the HPV vaccine can greatly reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer. Still, about 12,000 new cases of HPV-related cervical cancer are diagnosed in the country each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cancer related to HPV infections disproportionately affect Black and Latina women, according to CDC data. That disparity may be due to barriers that prevent many Black and Latina women from getting screening and follow-up care, Bergdahl said. This higher prevelence makes it essential that every woman in the community, “regardless of race or insurance status, has access to potentially life-saving cervical cancer screenings this year,” she said.

Loretto Hospital will close Cervical Cancer Awareness Month by inviting community members to join a panel of experts of an in-depth discussion about the disease. Participants will learn about what cervical cancer is, what causes the disease, how cervical cancer can be prevented, and why it is so important to get screened.

The panel will be streamed live on Loretto Hospital’s Facebook page at 4:40 p.m. Jan 27.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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