Be Part of the Cervical Cancer Success Story: Get Screened
You can be part of the cervical cancer success story. Follow these three steps, and you can nearly prevent cervical cancer:
- If you are between the ages of 21 and 29, have a Pap test every three years.
- If you are between the ages of 30 and 65, have a Pap test every three years or a Pap test and HPV test (a screening test for the human papillomavirus) every five years.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about the best approach to your future cervical cancer screenings given your age and health history. According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer is more common in women in age 40 and older.
Cervical cancer, or cancer of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina), used to be a leading cause of cancer death in women. But now, thanks to increased use and availability of the Pap test, deaths from cervical cancer have gone down by more than 50 percent.
The Pap test, although simple, packs a powerful punch in just a few minutes time. It not only identifies changes in the cells of your cervix that could develop into cancer, but it can also identify cancer in its earliest stages--when it’s the most treatable. Today, most women diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer have never had a cervical cancer screening.
The HPV test is a newer line of defense. It screens for the high-risk types of the human papillomavirus, known to cause cervical cancer. HPV infection is actually pretty common. It’s spread through sexual contact, but most women’s bodies can fight off the infection without any effects. Some types of HPV cause genital warts, but they rarely lead to cervical cancer.
Both the Pap and HPV test can be done together. Your healthcare provider simply takes a small amount of cells from your cervix using a swab or small brush. The sample is then put in a special liquid preservative that is sent to a lab for analysis.
What Are My Test Results?
One of the most important things to remember about your Pap and HPV tests is to learn the results. Your healthcare provider should tell you when they’re ready and how to get them. Some offices will even call you with your test results. But to be safe, be sure to ask when and how your cervical cancer screening results will be given to you.
These simple tests have saved many women’s lives. Make cervical cancer screening a part of your wellness plan.
Learn more about advanced gynecological cancer treatment at Franciscan Health.