January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Blue ribbon for cervical cancerWhat is Cervical Cancer

According to the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later. When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over age 30. Long-lasting infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer.

Risk Factors

  • HPV
  • Becoming sexually active ate a young age and having multiple sexual partners
  • Smoking
  • Immunosuppression, including HIV infection
  • Chlamydia infection (past or current)
  • Long-term use of contraceptives
  • Family history of cervical cancer
  • Lower socioeconomic status

When to Get Screened

If You Are 21 to 29 Years Old

You should start getting Pap tests at age 21. If your Pap test result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.

If You Are 30 to 65 Years Old

Talk to your doctor about which testing option is right for you—

  • A Pap test only. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.
  • An HPV test only. This is called primary HPV testing. If your result is normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
  • An HPV test along with the Pap test. This is called co-testing. If both of your results are normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years until your next screening test.
If You Are Older Than 65

Your doctor may tell you that you don’t need to be screened anymore if—

  • You have had normal screening test results for several years, or
  • You have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions, like fibroids.

Useful Links:
1. www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/what-is-cancer.html
2. www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html
3. https://www.womenshealth.gov/cancer/cervical-cancer