Cervical Cancer Screening
The American Cancer Society recommends screening in order to find cervical cancer at the earliest, most treatable stage. Screening can also identify pre-cancerous conditions that can be effectively treated to prevent cancer from forming.
Pap (Papanicolaou) Test
The Pap test is a procedure that collects cells from the cervix to look for abnormalities under a microscope. The cells are reviewed in the laboratory to check for cancer or pre-cancerous changes in the cervical cells.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA Test
This is a swab test of the cervix and is used to determine the presence of the HPV gene. This can be used in combination with the Pap test or alone after an abnormal Pap test to determine if more testing or treatment is necessary.
Know your risk
The most important risk factor for developing cervical cancer is infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is classified into low and high risk types depending how strong their link to cancer is. HPV infection is common, but most people can clear the infection and never have a problem.
Review your health history with your provider to determine your level of risk.
When to screen
The American Cancer Society along with the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology recommend the following for women at low to average risk:
- 21-29 Pap test every 3 years
- 30-65 HPV and Pap every 5 years OR Pap alone every 3 years
- >65 No screening if previous negative screening results