January is observed as “National Cervical Health Awareness Month” in the United States. Jointly sponsored by the American Social Health Association (ASHA) and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), the campaign aims to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem. It is a platform to raise widespread awareness about cervical cancer and educate women about preventing the condition through lifestyle changes and vaccination. Regarded as the fourth most common cause of cancer death among women, cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix – the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Persistent infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common infection that spreads through sexual activity. As per reports from the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), about 79 million Americans currently have HPV and many people with HPV don’t know they are infected. It is estimated that each year more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. Identifying key risk factors and undergoing correct diagnosis and screening procedures can help prevent the occurrence of this condition at an early stage, when the disease is most curable. Treatment modalities for this condition may depend on the stage of the cancer and other related medical conditions. Oncology medical billing and coding can be challenging. Gynecologic oncologists treating patients with cervical cancer must also make sure that the medical billing and coding for this condition is done correctly on the medical claims. To ensure correct clinical documentation and reimbursement of this condition, physicians can depend on outsourced medical coding services.

The 2021 monthly observance is the perfect platform to educate as many people as possible about HPV (human papillomavirus) that causes nearly all cases of cervical cancers. HPV infections are asymptomatic and resolve on their own but carry the risk of leading to cervical cancer in the end. Early-stage cervical cancers depict no specific signs or symptoms. However, as the cancer reaches an advanced stage, most people experience symptoms like – vaginal bleeding after intercourse; pelvic pain or pain during intercourse; and watery, bloody vaginal discharge (that may be heavy and have a foul odor).

The health awareness campaign highlights the importance of undergoing early cancer diagnosis and screenings on a regular basis for better treatment. To determine the different stages of the cancer, a wide range of diagnostic imaging tests like HPV DNA test (to determine whether an individual has any types of HPV), colonoscopy, CT scan, MRI, pelvic ultrasound and other types of blood tests will be performed to determine the stage of the cancer.

According to recommendations from the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), women aged 21-29 years need to undergo regular 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. In addition, the USPSTF recommends any one of the following screenings – screening for cervical cancer every 3 years, or screening for HPV every 5 years, or screening for both HPV and cervical cancer every 5 years. On the other hand, the USPSTF does not recommend screening for women below 21 years of age and for those who had adequate screening in the past (unless they have a high risk of cervical cancer). 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 correctly include the symptoms, diagnosis, screening tests and other treatment procedures administered using the correct medical codes. Medical billing services offered by professional companies can help physicians use the right medical codes for their medical billing purposes. Related medical codes for cervical cancer include –

ICD-10 Codes

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

HCPCS Codes

  • G0101 – Cervical or vaginal cancer screening; pelvic and clinical breast examination
  • G0123 – Screening cytopathology, cervical or vaginal (any reporting system), collected in preservative fluid, automated thin layer preparation, screening by cytotechnologist under physician supervision
  • G0124 -Screening cytopathology, cervical or vaginal (any reporting system), collected in preservative fluid, automated thin layer preparation, requiring interpretation by physician
  • G0141 -Screening cytopathology smears, cervical or vaginal, performed by automated system, with manual rescreening, requiring interpretation by physician
  • 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
  • P3001 – Screening papanicolaou smear, cervical or vaginal, up to three smears, requiring interpretation by physician
  • Q0091 – Screening papanicolaou smear; obtaining, preparing and conveyance of cervical or vaginal smear to laboratory

As part of the observance, the sponsoring organizations host a wide range of programs to promote the importance of cervical health and cancer prevention. These programs include – distributing monthly newsletters and handouts to share messages about cervical cancer prevention, encouraging cervical cancer screenings, hosting community events (such as walks/runs, education and fundraising events), publishing and distributing monthly newsletters and handouts to patients/students (that include information about HPV and cervical cancer prevention), encouraging donations (to reach out to more women with the message that cervical cancer can be prevented), joining discussions about cervical cancer on media and posting videos and podcasts on the NCCC website. People affected with this cancer can get involved in the campaign by sharing their individual stories or experiences via top social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and others and encourage others to take the right action to prevent this type of cancer at an early stage.

Join “Cervical Health Awareness Month” campaign this January. Highlight the issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease and the importance of early detection and prevention.