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January is observed as Cervical Health Awareness Month in the United States each year. Sponsored jointly by the American Social Health Association (ASHA) and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), this monthly campaign encourages women to get screened for cervical cancer and learn more about preventing the condition through lifestyle changes and vaccination. Regarded as one of the most common causes of cancer deaths among American women, cervical cancer develops in the cells of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina). As per the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), about 13,000 women in the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. It is estimated that about one-third of people will die as a result of cancer. The condition most commonly affects sexually active women aged between 30 – 45 years. Treatment options for this condition depend on several factors such as the stage of the cancer and other health problems. Gynecologic oncologists and other specialists administering different treatment modalities should have up-to-date knowledge about the latest guidelines or practices for medical billing and coding. For correct clinical documentation of this disorder, physicians can benefit from the services of medical billing outsourcing companies.

Nearly all cases of cervical cancers are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) – a common infection, which spreads through sexual activity. The 2019 campaign is a perfect platform for women to learn more about HPV and how to prevent cervical cancer. Reports suggest that about 14 million new cases of HPV crop up in the U.S. each year. However, most people infected with HPV don’t even know that they are infected. Generally, HPV infections are asymptomatic and resolve on their own. On the other hand, some other infections cause cervix cells to change and these abnormal changes can eventually develop into cervical cancer.

In most cases, early-stage cervical cancers produce no specific signs or symptoms. Other symptoms of a more-advanced stage of cancer include – vaginal bleeding after intercourse, pelvic pain or pain during intercourse and watery, bloody vaginal discharge (that may be heavy and have a foul odour). Several diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, PET scans and MRIs will be performed to determine the stage of the cancer. In addition, physicians may also use special scopes to visually examine your bladder and rectum.

The month-long health awareness campaign highlights the need to receive or undergo early cancer diagnosis and screenings on a regular basis for better treatment. As per recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women aged 21-65 years need to undergo cervical cancer screening every 3 years. The Pap smear test and HPV DNA test are the commonly used cervical cancer screening methods that will help detect the disease early. Medicare Part (B) covers screening for cervical cancer with HPV testing under preventive services. The coverage is allowed for asymptomatic female Medicare beneficiaries aged 30 to 65 once every 5 years in conjunction with a Pap test.

When documenting cervical cancer, gynecologic oncologists or other specialists must include the associated symptoms, diagnosis, screening tests and other treatment procedures performed using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by reputable medical billing companies can help physicians use the right medical codes for their medical billing purposes –

ICD-10 Codes

  • Z12.4 – Encounter for screening for malignant neoplasm of cervix
  • Z12.9 – Encounter for screening for malignant neoplasm, site unspecified

HCPCS Codes

  • G0123 – Screening cytopathology, cervical or vaginal (any reporting system), collected in preservative fluid, automated thin layer preparation, screening by cytotechnologist under physician supervision
  • G0143 – Screening cytopathology, cervical or vaginal (any reporting system), collected in preservative fluid, automated thin layer preparation, with manual screening and re-screening by cytotechnologist under physician supervision
  • G0144 – Screening cytopathology, cervical or vaginal (any reporting system), collected in preservative fluid, automated thin layer preparation, with screening by automated system, under physician supervision
  • G0145 – Screening cytopathology, cervical or vaginal (any reporting system), collected in preservative fluid, automated thin layer preparation, with screening by automated system and manual rescreening under physician supervision
  • G0147 – Screening cytopathology smears, cervical or vaginal, performed by automated system under physician supervision
  • G0148 – Screening cytopathology smears, cervical or vaginal, performed by automated system with manual rescreening
  • P3000 – Screening papanicolaou smear, cervical or vaginal, up to three smears, by technician under physician supervision

As part of the awareness campaign, the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) hosts a wide variety of programs to promote awareness about cervical cancer. These include – creating banners and posters to encourage cervical cancer screenings, distributing monthly newsletters and handouts to patients/students (that include information HPV and cervical cancer prevention), hosting community events (such as walks/runs, education and fundraising events), giving presentations to local groups/organizations, and sharing information about cervical cancer on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others.

Be part of 2019 Cervical Health Awareness Month celebration! Educate women about the importance of early diagnosis and screening to prevent the condition in the long run.