Thursday, January 15, 2015

‘Girls’ Night Out’ offers fun, education on women’s health

by Air Force Maj. Angela Webb
JBER Public Affairs

1/15/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 673d Medical Group will host the third annual 'Girls' Night Out'- an evening of fun and education on women's health - at the Arctic Warrior Events Center from 5 to 8:30 p.m., Jan. 27.

The 673d Medical Group started the event in 2012 due to an alarming increase in cervical cancer in females throughout the nation. Medical providers and technicians found that many women across Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, especially spouses and children, were not receiving the preventive health care available, or didn't have their records updated in the JBER system.

"Girls' Night Out" is a way to allow those on base to learn more about statistically female health care requirements in an enjoyable and low-stress environment.

"The event has grown tremendously from our first year, but the numbers are still showing the target [female patients] aren't receiving the recommended care for cervical and breast cancer," said Air Force Capt. Amy Spotanski, 673d Medical Group Women's Health Services.

"The event will hopefully encourage females to come get information, make appointments and have some fun."

The evening's activities will feature massages, manicures, cooking demonstrations and chances to win various door prizes.

"Health care will not be provided at the event, but appointments and updates to paperwork will be made," said Spotanski. "Even if someone has received care, they are still encouraged to come. We do encourage those who have received care off base to bring a copy of their information to update their base records though."

The event will also highlight other diseases that can be treated best if caught early - like breast, colorectal and throat cancer. Pap-smear and mammogram appointments can be scheduled during the event as well.

Medical group personnel will also discuss the importance of family history when it comes to various cancers.

If your family has a history of breast or ovarian cancer, you and your family are at an elevated risk, said Cynthia Mellor, 673d Medical Group clinical nurse. There are three risk levels; general population, the lowest risk; those with a familial history of cancer; and those with a hereditary disposition.

Each risk level has specific management that is associated with it, but a provider cannot accurately assess your risk and manage you correctly without first ruling out the hereditary component.

Care providers can discuss risk and whether a genetic screening is in order.

Being worked up for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome provides lifesaving information for you and your family and can prevent these cancers, said Mellor.

Additionally, those with dependents 10 and older can get information about the human papillomavirus vaccine, and make an appointment for dependents to get the vaccine.

HPV is a primary cause of cervical cancer and the most common sexually transmitted infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We don't want parents to think that they will get their child the vaccine and it will permit or encourage sexual activity," Spotanski said.

"Statistics show that males and females between the ages of 10 and 12 have the best immune response and chance to decrease the risk of contracting cervical cancer."

She also added that the HPV vaccination is only available to those between the ages of 10 and 26.

For more information about the event or to schedule an appointment, contact the Womens' Health Clinic at 580-4034.

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