RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Health experts say now is the time to schedule a regular screening if you’re due. This allows doctors to detect changes in the cervix before cancer develops or is in its early stages.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 14,000 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year and about 4,200 women will die from it.

“What we do know in this country is that the women at greatest risk of developing cervix cancer are Hispanic, Black, Native American and Asian women,” said Dr. Wendy Brewster.

Brewster is a gynecologic surgeon with UNC who specializes in the care and study of cervical cancer.

She said the key to prevention is regular screenings starting at age 21 and the HPV vaccine.

“The global health strategy is by 2030, to have 90 percent of girls vaccinated by the age of 15 and to be able to treat 90 percent of pre-cancers and to be able to intervene in 90 percent of the cancers that do develop,” she said.

Brewster said the best advice is to talk to your doctor about what health care plan is best for you, whether that’s getting a screening annually, every 3 years, or every 5 years.

She hopes raising awareness about cervical cancer can save more lives.

“We prefer to be able to manage this when it’s pre-cancer. when it’s pre-cancer and it’s treated, that’s not a threat to your life at all,” Brewster said.

Cervical Cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American Women but Brewster said the risks have dropped significantly through screening and education.

For more resources on cervical health, click here.