According to the CDC up to 93% of cervical cancers are preventable. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination helps prevent infection with the HPV types that cause most cervical cancers.
The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals with a cervix follow these guidelines to help find cervical cancer early. Following these guidelines can also find pre-cancers, which can be treated to keep cervical cancer from starting. These guidelines do not apply to people who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer or cervical pre-cancer. These women should have follow-up testing and cervical cancer screening as recommended by their health care team.
Cervical cancer testing (screening) should begin at age 25.
Those aged 25 to 65 should have a primary HPV test* every 5 years. If primary HPV testing is not available, screening may be done with either a co-test that combines an HPV test with a Papanicolaou (Pap) test every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years.
(*A primary HPV test is an HPV test that is done by itself for screening. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved certain tests to be primary HPV tests.)
The most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly, no matter which test you get.
- Those over age 65 who have had regular screening in the past 10 years with normal results and no history of CIN2 or more serious diagnosis within the past 25 years should stop cervical cancer screening. Once stopped, it should not be started again.
- People who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) should stop screening (such as Pap tests and HPV tests), unless the hysterectomy was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer. People who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix (called a supra-cervical hysterectomy) should continue cervical cancer screening according to the guidelines above.
- People who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow these guidelines for their age groups.
- Some people believe that they can stop cervical cancer screening once they have stopped having children. This is not true. They should continue to follow American Cancer Society guidelines.
- Click here to view Considerations for Other Patient Populations