Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical Cancer Screening

Women’s Health: What cancer Screening is all about?

Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer screening is an important part of a woman’s routine health care. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are triggered by infection with sexually transmitted oncogenic, or high-risk, types of human papillomavirus, or HPV.

  • The primary goal of screening is to identify precancerouslesions caused by HPV so they can be removed to avoid invasive cancers from developing.
  • A secondary goal is to discover cervical cancers at an early stage, when they can usually be cured successfully.

Cervical cancer screening now comprises three approaches:

  1. Pap testor Pap smear –  checks for cervical cancer cells and cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer.
  2. HPV testing, which looks for the presence of high-risk HPV types in cervical cells
  3. HPV/Pap cotesting –two tests that are done at the same time to check for abnormal cells or cervical cancer.

When should a woman begin cervical cancer screening, and how often should she be screened?

  • Women ages 21 through 29 should be screened with a Pap test every 3 years
  • Women ages 30 through 65 should be screened with any of three tests:
    • every 5 years with high-risk HPVtesting alone
    • every 5 years with Pap and high-risk HPV cotesting
    • every 3 years with a Pap test alone
  • Women with certain risk factorsmay need to have frequent screening or to continue screening beyond age 65. These risk factors include:
    • being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
    • being immunosuppressed
    • having been unprotected to diethylstilbestrolbefore birth
    • having been treated for a precancerouscervical lesion or cervical cancer
  • Screening for cervical cancer is not suggested for:
    • women younger than 21 years
    • women older than 65 years who have had sufficient prior screening, with normal results, and who are not otherwise at high risk for cervical cancer
    • women who have had a total hysterectomy(surgery to remove the uterus and cervix) and have no history of high-grade cervical lesions or cervical cancer

Reference: https://www.cancer.gov/types/cervical/pap-hpv-testing-fact-sheet

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