Cervical cancer will affect about 14,000 women this year. The tragic thing is, it’s a cancer that is highly preventable. The most important things you can do to prevent cervical cancer are to get PAP smears regularly to find abnormal cells and to get the HPV vaccine if you are eligible.
Screening Guidelines For Cervical Cancer
Having screening done means getting a regular PAP smear test done to test for abnormal cells on the cervix resembling human papillomavirus, the leading cause for most cases of cervical cancer (more than 90% of cases). A swab against the cervix takes sample cells which are then placed under a microscope for inspection. Certain strains of HPV are considered a precursor to cervical cancer.
Here are the latest cervical cancer screening guidelines that we follow at true. Women’s Health:
- Women ages 21 to 29 should have a PAP done starting by age 21 and if normal repeated every 3 years.
- Women ages 30-65 should have a PAP plus testing for HPV done and if normal repeated at least every 5 years.
If you have any risk factors such as smoking, history of previous abnormal PAP results, any sexually transmitted infections, or multiple sex partners, your testing may be recommended more often. Women who have a compromised immune system due to a health condition are also recommended for more frequent testing.
HPV vaccination is key to preventing cervical cancer. This vaccination is routinely recommended for girls aged 9-12 and can be given at any older age if not previously done. It is better late than never! The vaccine is proven to be safe and effective in protecting against 9 different strains of HPV. If you are a woman over age 26 and are interested in this vaccine, discuss this option with your medical provider.
Remember, ladies, prevention is in your hands! Don’t put yourself at risk when it’s unnecessary. A few quick appointments will provide a patient so much protection, and you can’t put a price on peace of mind. It may be uncomfortable or inconvenient, but this is one thing on your to-do list you don’t want to ignore. If cervical cancer screening is recommended for you, set up an appointment with us at true.!