CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - On Wednesday, hundreds will gather at the State House in Columbia to join in the fight against cervical cancer.
"Teal and White" day aims to bring together a statewide coalition of doctors, advocacy groups and survivors -- all in the midst of National Cervical Cancer Awareness month.
Doctor Jennifer Pierce Young, an Associate Professor at MUSC in Gynecologic Oncology, says cervical cancer remains a big problem in South Carolina.
She says cervical cancer is AS serious as breast cancer—but they *have* been able to diagnose it earlier.
Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death in American women.
But over the last 40 years, the death rate has gone down by more than 50 percent.
The main reason for this change is more women getting a Pap smear.
Even with that, according to the American Cancer Society, nearly 13,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year.
And doctors are trying to combat that number every day.
"The road for cure in cervical cancer is a rocky one. And often women go through a lot. And their families go through a lot. So I want to debunk the myth that this is an easy cancer -- that cervical cancer is one of those things that aren't that bad. It is a devastating diagnosis any woman and something that should absolutely be avoided," says Dr. Pierce Young.
"The words cancer… it's just a surreal experience," says Marie Slone who was diagnosed with stage two cervical cancer in October of 2012.
After 30 rounds of external radiation, chemotherapy and internal radiation – Marie kicked the disease and is about to celebrate five years of being cancer-free.
Both Marie and Dr. Pierce Young say awareness is key.
"Cervical cancer affects a lot of women in their reproductive age. So for a lot of women it's in the 30s and 40s. For pre-cancers it's even as early as in the 20s," says Dr. Pierce Young.
She adds while they're able to prevent a large number of cervical cancers with a Pap smear – it's still a big problem and needs to be prevented.
First, and foremost, Dr. Pierce Young says women should follow their Gynecologist's recommendations on their Pap smears.
She says you ask your doctor for an HPV test and she recommends you vaccinate your children so their chances of getting cervical cancer decreases significantly.
Dr. Pierce Young says nearly 200 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 70 women died last year in South Carolina.
She says those numbers may seem low, but that is 200 women who have been seriously affected with this diagnosis.
And on Wednesday, those affected by cervical cancer, doctors and hundreds more will gather at the State House to show support of a disease that *does* affect so many.
For more on the event you can go here: http://scccai.com/calendar/
For more information on cervical cancer you can go here: http://scccai.com/stats/