AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It’s National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and local doctors want to raise awareness.

Nearly a half-million women around the world are battling cervical cancer. Dr. Sharad Ghamande at Augusta University cautions women on what they can do to prevent it. 

“So, if you look at cervical cancer, 50 percent of patients who have cervical cancer have not had a pap smear in the preceding five years or more,” Dr. Ghamande said.  

Patients should be getting check-ups every three years.

Dr. Ghamande says advances in medical technology have made cervical cancer easier to treat.

“Luckily, in the United States– because of pap smear screening– and now more and more HPV vaccination, we do significantly better,” Dr. Ghamande said.  

There are some signs women can look for to determine if they need to see their doctor.

“Abnormal uterine bleeding, particularly after intercourse– is usually the classic sign– or if there’s a persistent false smell in discharge to the vagina,” Dr. Ghamande said.

Women should start being screened as early as 21-years-old.

“To age 30, we do it every three years. After 30, you can continue every three years or you can do co testing with an HPV probe and a pap smear every five,” Dr. Ghamande said.

And vaccinations also help put a stop to the disease. 

“It’s a phenomenal vaccine in terms of safety, efficacy, and its ability to prevent cervical cancer is outstanding. It’s better than most vaccines we take as human beings growing up,” Dr. Ghamande said.

Dr. Ghamande highlights that, though researchers have come far with preventable options, they’re not done just yet. 

“We do still have some work cut out to do for better screening and better prevention.”