Cervical Cancer Screening
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is cancer that forms in the tissue (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 can you test for cervical cancer?
A Pap smear can find unhealthy cells in the cervix that can turn into cancer. Cervical cancer is easier to treat when found early.
A Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test checks for the virus that can cause the cells in the cervix to change. It can also provide more information when a Pap smear produces unclear results. Additionally, there is an HPV vaccination and it is recommended that teens get the vaccination before they become sexually active. The HPV vaccination is highly effective in protecting individuals from the types of HPV that can cause various cancers.
What is co-testing?
Co-testing is when you use both a Pap smear and an HPV test to screen for cervical cancer.
How often should you test for cervical cancer?
People who have a cervix and are between 21 and 65 years of age should have a Pap smear every 3 years.
People who have a cervix and are between 30 and 65 years of age should have co-testing every 5 years, or have a Pap smear every 3 years.
Important: You should continue to test for cervical cancer even if you have received the HPV vaccine. If you have abnormal results or other risk factors you may need to test more often.
What can increase your risk for cervical cancer?
- You have never had a Pap smear, or it has been at least three years since your last one
- You have had a Pap smear result that was not normal
- You smoke
- You have a weak immune system
- You have been infected with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- You have had a chlamydia infection
- You have a diet low in fruits and vegetables
- You began having sex at an early age
- You are overweight or obese
- You have had many full-term pregnancies
- Your mother took a hormone drug, DES (diethylstilbestrol), while pregnant with you
- You have a family history of cervical cancer
A Pap smear is the best way to find cervical cancer early. Talk to your provider today about when and how often you should have this screening.
For more information on cervical cancer, click here.
Did you know? Molina Healthcare gives Apple Health (Medicaid) members Amazon.com Gift Cards for getting a Pap smear or HPV test and other important screenings. For more information, click here.
If you need nonemergency transportation for medical and behavioral appointments (Apple Health Medicaid), please visit: hca.wa.gov/transportation-help.