Prevent Cervical Cancer with the Right Test at the Right Time
Screening tests can find abnormal cells so they can be treated before they turn into cancer.
- The Pap test looks for changes in cells on the cervix that could turn into cancer if left untreated.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that causes these cell changes.
The only cancer the Pap test screens for is cervical.
HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a very common virus, passed from one person to another during sex. Most people get it, but it usually goes away on its own. If HPV doesn’t go away, it can cause cancer.
Most women don’t need a Pap test every year!
Have your first Pap test when you’re 21. If your test results are normal, you can wait 3 years for your next Pap test. HPV tests aren’t recommended for screening women under 30.
When you turn 30, you have a choice:
- If your test results are normal, get a Pap test every 3 years. OR
- Get both a Pap test and an HPV test every 5 years.
You can stop getting screened if:
- You’re older than 65 and have had normal Pap test results for many years.
- Your cervix was removed during surgery for a non-cancerous condition like fibroids.
The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (womb) that connects the uterus to the vagina (birth canal). A diagram of the female reproductive system shows the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus, vagina, and vulva.