The most important thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer is to be screened regularly. Your women’s wellness exam will often include the Pap test (pap smear) and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test, which detects HPV, the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, are used to detect cervical cancer.
Pap tests can find abnormal cells that may turn into cervical cancer. Removal of the abnormal cells prevents cervical cancer. Pap tests can also find cervical cancer early, when the chance of being cured is very high.
In addition to the Pap test, the HPV test may be used for screening women who are 30 years old or older, or at any age for those who have unclear Pap test results. It also is used to provide more information when Pap test results are unclear for women aged 21 and older. Women should receive a Pap test starting within three years after becoming sexually active, or no later than age 21.
If you are between 21 and 29 years old, it is important for you to continue getting a Pap test as directed by your doctor. Screening should be done every 2 to 3 years.
At age 30, Pap and HPV test frequency can drop to every 5 years. This is called co-testing and should continue until age 65, according to the American Cancer Society.
If you are older than 65 and have had a normal Pap test for several years, or if you had your cervix removed (for a non-cancerous condition, such as fibroids), your doctor may recommend discontinuing the Pap test.
If you haven’t had your Pap test, it is important that you do so. Women need to be proactive in their own health care!Tags: cancer, cancer risk, cervical cancer, cervical cancer risk, reduce cervical cancer, women's health