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Staying Healthy

Cervical Cancer

Female doctor and patient

Cervical cancer, what is it?

Cervical cancer is cancer that forms in the tissues (cells) of the cervix. The cervix is the organ that connects the uterus and vagina. You could have cervical cancer and not know it.

How do the providers check to see if I have cervical cancer?

A Pap test can find unhealthy tissue in the cervix that can turn into cancer later. A Pap test can also find cervical cancer early. If it is found early, then it is easier to cure.

I am not sexually active now; do I still need a Pap test?

If you are not currently sexually active, you may still need a Pap test. Almost all cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that can live in the body for many years.

How often should I get a Pap test?

Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) and pelvic exam are encouraged for women between 21 to 65 years old every three years for Pap test who are sexually active and have a cervix. For women between the ages of 30 and 65 years old who want to lengthen the screening time, a Pap test every 5 years when combined with HPV testing. Talk to your provider about what testing schedule is good for you.

Why is it important for me to get a Pap test?

It can find abnormal cervical cell changes before they have a chance to become cancerous. It can find cervical cancer early enough - while it's still easier to cure.

Where do I get a Pap test?

  • Your provider's office
  • A medical clinic
  • Local health department

I've gone through menopause; do I still need a Pap test?

Yes. You should continue to have routine Pap tests until age 65. The chance of cervical cancer grows with age. In some cases, when it is first found in older women, the cancer is more advanced and is harder to cure.

I have had a hysterectomy; do I still need a Pap test?

After a hysterectomy, you will still need to get Pap tests if:

  • You had a partial hysterectomy (An operation that removed the uterus but not the cervix)
  • You had a total hysterectomy (An operation that removed the uterus and the cervix) because you had cervical cancer or a condition that might lead to cancer.

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