Cervical Cancer Health and Prevention Resources
Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the U.S. Thanks to the HPV vaccine, as well as screening and diagnostic tests, the number of cervical cancer cases and deaths have decreased significantly. The You First program covers cervical cancer screening and diagnostic tests. Find out which screenings are covered.
Cervical cancer is usually a slow growing cancer that develops over many years, and changes to the cervix can be seen in a Pap test. This test is done during a pelvic exam. If the Pap test shows abnormal cell growth, the cells can be removed before they become cancerous. Keep the following in mind to reduce your risk:
- Get a Pap test. The Pap test (also known as a Pap smear) looks for precancerous cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. Talk to your doctor about when to start screening for cervical cancer. Many people are recommended to begin Pap screenings between ages 21 and 25.
- Get an HPV test. The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes. Talk with your provider about when to begin HPV testing. Many people are recommended to begin HPV screenings at age 30.
- Get an HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccines protect against the Human papillomavirus (HPV) strains that most often cause cervical cancer and other cancers. The HPV vaccines are routinely recommended for 11 and 12-year-olds, and are also recommended for 13 to 26-year-olds who did not get the vaccines when they were younger. People up to age 45 can now get the HPV vaccine. Talk about your vaccine options with your doctor or nurse. People who have been vaccinated against HPV and have a cervix should still have regular Pap tests.
- Practice safe sex. 80% of people will get an HPV infection in their lifetime. You can be infected with HPV by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone already infected with the virus. Safe sexual practices like using barriers/condoms and regular sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STI/STD) testing for both you and your partners may help reduce your risk of HPV infection.
- Don't smoke. Smoking can cause cancer and then block your body from fighting it. For resources on quitting smoking and other tobacco, visit 802Quits.