By Curt Yeomans
Clayton State University health officials will highlight the need for early cancer detection during the school's eighth-annual Health Awareness Fair on Thursday.
The fair, conducted by the University Health Services Department, will be held from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., in the "Main Street" area, on the second floor of Clayton State's James M. Baker University Center, on the school's Morrow campus. The event is free, and open to the public.
University Health Services Office Manager Latrice Barlow said information will be distributed about breast, testicular and cervical cancers, as well as domestic violence. She added that screenings for the cancers will not be conducted at the fair, however, because of the "private" nature of necessary exams.
"While testicular cancer is not as common [as breast cancer], it is commonly seen among men between the ages of 20 and 32, while cervical cancer is prevalent among women between the ages of 19 and 28," said Barlow, who is also the Health Awareness Fair's coordinator. "That is why we are doing this. The sooner people start getting exams to identify these types of cancers, the more likely they are to survive them," she said.
Barlow said an average of 186,000 women, and 41,000 men across the country are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, while there are 8,500 new cases of testicular cancer reported each year. She added that 11,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and the cancer is terminal in 4,000 of those cases.
Deborah Honeycutt, a doctor in Clayton State's University Health Services Department, said the department's doctors diagnose an average of two female students per week with pre-cancerous cells in their cervix. It is the most common type of cancer seen by doctors at the University Health Services department, she said.
"People should get regular examinations, so they [the cancers] can be dealt with early, and we can bring that person back to a healthy level sooner," Honeycutt said. "The chances of a female getting cervical cancer is increased with early sexual activity, frequent sexual activity with multiple partners, and sexual activity without barrier protection [condoms] ...
"If you engage in sexual activity at a younger age, it gives you more time to develop the human papillomavirus, which we know causes cervical cancer," Honeycutt added.
She said the University Health Services Department offers Pap smears at a low cost to all new, female patients. The Pap smear, along with a sexually transmitted disease exam, costs $40, she said. People should begin getting yearly Pap smears "whenever they become sexually active," she said.
Honeycutt said another form of cancer that can affect male college students, testicular cancer, is like a two-sided coin, because it is not as prevalent as other forms of cancer, but the cases that do show up are often at more serious, advanced stages.
"One of the good things about testicular cancer is we don't see it that often," she said. "One of the bad things about testicular cancer, though, is that once you find it, it has progressed to more serious stages, where a testicle has to be removed, or some other form of surgery has to be performed."
Barlow said the American Cancer Society recommends that women get at least one Pap smear a year, while men should do monthly examinations of their testicles, and both sexes should do self-breast exams on a monthly basis, as well. She said University Health Services conducts as many as 60 Pap smears and 10 testicular checks per month
While breast cancer is not as common among college-age students, Honeycutt recommended that people begin performing self-examinations before they reach the age of 35, so they "get a feel for the texture of their breasts, and can identify any abnormalities which may show up later on."
For more information about the Health Awareness Fair, or on how to check for various types of cancers, call University Health Services at (678) 466-4940.