This article was posted on The Molina Healthcare Blog. Read more here.
Cervical cancer is primarily caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There is an HPV vaccine that protects against the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancers. HPV vaccines prevent new HPV infections but do not treat existing infections or diseases. It’s best to get the vaccine before any exposure to HPV. Talk to your doctor to see if the HPV vaccine is an option for you.
The HPV and Pap tests are screening tests to help find cervical cancer early.
The HPV test looks for the virus that causes cell changes on the cervix. The Pap test, or Pap smear, looks for precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might turn into cervical cancer if left untreated.
Get your first Pap test at age 21. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor might tell you to wait three years to get your next test. But only do that if your doctor tells you to.
If you’re between 30 and 65 years old, you have three testing options:
- An HPV test only. If your test result is normal, your doctor might tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
- An HPV test and a Pap test. If both results are normal, your doctor might tell you that you can wait five years until your next tests.
- A Pap test only. If your result is normal, your doctor might tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
If you’re older than 65, your doctor could tell you that you may not need any screenings if:
- Your test results have been normal for several years
- You have not had a cervical precancer in the past
- You have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for noncancerous conditions, like fibroids
Share this information with the women around you. Encourage them to get regular screenings and the HPV vaccine!back to blog