Cervical Cancer Screening
What is it?
Your OB/GYN takes a sample of cervical cells and sends them to a lab for testing. For a Pap test, the sample is tested to see if abnormal cells are present. For an HPV test, the sample is tested for infection with HPV types linked to cancer.
For low risk women, these are the recommended guidelines:
- If you are younger than 21 years You do not need screening
- If you are aged 21-29 years = Have a Pap test every 3 years
- If you are aged 30-65 years = Have a Pap test and an HPV est (co-testing) every 5 years (preferred) or a Pap test alone every 3 years
- If you are 65 years or older = You do not need screening if you have no history of cervical changes and either 3 negative Pap test results in a row or 2 negative co-test results in a row within the past 10 years, with the most recent test performed within the past 5 years.
If you have had a hysterectomy in which your cervix was removed and…..
- You have a history of cervical cancer or moderate to severe cervical changes = Continue to have screening for 20 years after your surgery
- You have no history of cervical cancer or cervical changes = You do not need screening
- You still need to have screening if you have been vaccinated against HPV
- You still need to have screening if you have had a hysterectomy and your cervix was not removed
- You may need more frequent screening if you have a history of abnormal Pap tests…..You have a history of HPV….Your immune system is compromised…..You smoke
Cervical cancer screening is only one part of your yearly exam. It is important to have a pelvic and breast exam, along with talking to your doctor about birth control, family planning and any other concerns you may have.