According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer was once one
of the most common causes of cancer death among American women. Annual
screenings, along with the development of the HPV vaccine, have played
a major role in the decline of cervical cancer deaths by more than 50%.
There are two types of tests used by healthcare professionals for cervical
The Pap Test – This test can find early cervical cell changes and
treat them before they become cancer, or detect cervical cancer early—when
it’s easier to treat.
The HPV Test – The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test finds certain
infections that can lead to cell changes and ultimately cervical cancer.
When Should I Get Screened?
Cervical Cancer is most often found in women between the ages of 20 and
50. However, more than 15% of cases of cervical cancer are found in women
over the age of 65; most often in women who were not previously being
screened for cervical cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends that all women should begin cervical
cancer screening at the age of 21. Newly revised guidelines recommend
that women between the ages of 21 and 29 have a Pap test every 3 years
and should not be tested for HPV unless it is needed after an abnormal
Pap test result. To see a detailed list of the ACS recommendations, you
can visit their
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Because women with early cervical cancers and pre-cancers usually have
no symptoms, regular screenings by a healthcare professional are important.
Symptoms often do not begin until a pre-cancer becomes a true invasive
cancer and spreads into nearby tissue. When this happens, common symptoms include:
It’s important to keep in mind that these signs and symptoms can
also be caused by other conditions, such as an infection. Being screened
regularly can help you monitor your cervical health, and receive treatment
right away if needed.
Screening Makes All the Difference
According to the American Cancer Society, if detected early, cervical cancer
is one of the most successfully treatable cancers. In the United States,
the cervical cancer death rate declined by more than 50% over the last
30 years. This is thought to be mainly due to the effectiveness of Pap
Screening tests are the best option for detecting cervical cancer at an
early stage, when successful treatment is likely. Screening tests also
detect abnormal cell changes, so they can be treated, before they turn
into cervical cancer.
If you haven’t been screened for cervical cancer, or you’re
up for your annual appointment, don’t delay! Screening for cervical
cancer saves lives, so contact your healthcare provider today.