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:
- Pap testor Pap smear – checks for cervical cancer cells and cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer.
- HPV testing, which looks for the presence of high-risk HPV types in cervical cells
- 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