Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko
In 2023, around 13,960 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States.
Cervical cancer occurs when a growth of cells start in the cervix—the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Right now, cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer for women worldwide.
The disease is one of the most preventable cancers that affect women and can be detected early by screening tests. One of those screening tests is an annual pap smear examination. It is recommended that every woman should have their first Pap test at the age of 21, as it is the most common.
Routine pap testing and early treatment can reduce your risk of cancer. A pap test looks at cells of the cervix and is done during a pelvic exam. Cervical cancer usually starts with changes to the cells of the cervix, called dysplasia. These abnormal cells can be removed to prevent cancer, if found early. HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.
In the beginning, people may not experience symptoms. However, as it grows, it might cause signs and symptoms typified by disturbances in the general area.
Talk to your PCP or OB/GYN about how often you should be screened for cervical cancer. Below are pap test recommendations.
- Women should start cervical cancer screening at 21 years of age.
- Women ages 21 to 29 years should have a Pap test every three years.
- Women ages 30 to 65 years have the choice to get a Pap test every three years, a HR HPV test every five years, or a Pap test and HR HPV test every five years.
- There is no screening required for women 65 and older if Pap results have been normal for many years.
The COVID pandemic has caused many people to miss their routine cancer screenings. If you are due for cervical cancer screening, do not wait. Call your PCP or OB/GYN to schedule your appointment as soon as you can.
USFHP Primary Healthcare Plan provides routine doctor's visits, hospitalization, prescription coverage, preventative health care coverage, specialty care. We’ve also developed incentive programs that give rewards to our members for meeting certain health goals.
Visit usfhp.net or call 1-800-241-4848 for help finding a provider or assistance scheduling an appointment.