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Joey Feek story shines light on cervical cancer

Posted: 10:05 PM, Mar 15, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-16 13:04:09-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide. Its most recent high-profile victim: country singer and Indiana native Joey Feek.

Feek was only 40 years old when she died earlier this month. Her death has refocused attention on a disease that doctors say can be prevented.

A memorial for the country star was held on Sunday in her hometown of Alexandria, Indiana. Her battle with the disease was followed worldwide, and since her death, it's focused attention on a cancer that killed 5,000 women last year.

MORE | Joey Feek passes away after battle with cancer | Rory Feek shares photos of Joey's funeral | Saying goodbye to Joey Feek

Experts with the Simon Cancer Center say that screening for cervical cancer isn't perfect, which is why they recommend vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. The vaccine is known as Gardasil, and doctors say both boys and girls should be vaccinated beginning at age 10.

Dr. Darron Brown, an infectious disease specialist with IU Health, helped develop the vaccine.

"In my opinion, a combination of vaccination of young girls and women, and screening of older women, will eventually prevent this cancer from happening," Brown said.

Brown says a new form of Gardasil will protect against 90-95 percent of all cases of cervical cancer.

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