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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Every year approximately 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,000 American women die of the disease.

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month. Planned Parenthood is urging women to take charge of their health by talking to their doctors about cervical cancer, and the simple steps they can take to prevent it. 27 year-old Marie Coyle gets regular cervical cancer screenings. She says there is an attitude among her peers that cervical cancer screenings are not that important.

I think a lot of young women see it as an inconvenience, something that's going to be a little expensive and something that they don't really need to worry about," Coyle said. "I think there's this attitude of, 'I'm young and healthy. I'm just living my life, I don't need to worry about that until later,' when the fact is there are things we can do right now that are preventative and can save ourselves a lot of trouble and pain in the long run."

But healthcare providers says cervical cancer screenings like pap smears are a critical part of healthcare for women.

"Cervical cancer is caused by a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus," Certified Nurse Midwife Katie Riley said. "Most people have heard of HPV. There are many different strains of HPV. Most of them are actually harmless and your body can clear them on their own. But a few high-risk types can cause cervical cancer and that's what we're trying to encourage women to get screened for."

Planned Parenthood has more information about cervical health on its website.

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