According to News One, Yvette Wilson, the actor who played "Andell Wilkerson" on '90s hit show Moesha, is battling stage 4 cervical cancer. Stage 4 cancer is the final stage in which the cancer has progressed so much that it has spread to other organs in the body. The 48-year-old Wilson also has kidney disease and needs a transplant.
One of her friends, Jeffrey Pittle, a fellow stage 4 cancer survivor, created Cancer Sucks, a website where people can donate money to help Wilson pay her mounting medical bills.
When it comes to cervical cancer, Wilson is not alone.
Cervical cancer — cancer of the lower part of the womb that opens at the top of the vagina — is the third most common cancer diagnosed in women in the U.S. The cancer develops very slowly and can take years for the precancerous cells to turn into cancer. This is why it's important to get your annual Pap smears and to follow up when results test abnormal in order to catch the disease in its early stages.
There are two important facts to know about cervical cancer. First, almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV (human papilloma virus), which is spread through unprotected sex. And secondly, African-American women bear the brunt of HPV infections and cervical cancer. African-American women are 40 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer and 20 percent are more likely to die from it compared to white women.
In many women who have HPV, the virus clears up on its own. But this April, BET.com reported that researchers believe this disparity may exist because it takes longer for Black women's HPV to clear up, almost six months longer. The longer HPV is in your body, depending on the strain, it can develop into cervical cancer.
There is good news, though.
There is a vaccine for HPV. And while Gardasil isn't cheap (it can cost up to $400 for a set of three shots and not all insurances cover it), it's still an option for women ages 9 to 26. Also, HPV — and possibly cervical cancer — can be prevented by using condoms when having sex.
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(Photo: Courtesy News One)