Cervical Health Awareness: ScreenNJ.com · National Cervical Cancer Coalition · HPV Vaccine · Safer Sex Toolbox · New Jersey Dept. Health
Each year, more than 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States. Yet cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers today. In most cases cervical cancer can be prevented through early detection and treatment of abnormal cell changes that occur in the cervix years before cervical cancer develops.
We now know that these cell changes are caused by human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV. The traditional test for early detection has been the Pap test. For women age 30 and over, an HPV test is also recommended. HPV tests can find any of the high-risk types of HPV that are commonly found in cervical cancer. Current guidelines for cervical cancer screening are:
Women should start screening with the Pap test at age 21. (Screening is not recommended for women under age 21.) Starting at age 30, women have three options available for screening:
– A Pap test alone every three years
– Co-testing with a Pap and HPV test, every five years
– An HPV test alone, every five years
Depending on the results of the Pap and/or HPV tests, a healthcare provider may recommend additional screening or procedures, so some women may be screened more often.
There are steps you can take to ensure you get the best possible results from your Pap or HPV test:
– Try to schedule the test on a day when you do not expect to be on your menstrual period.
– If your period begins unexpectedly and will be continuing on the day of your test, try to reschedule the appointment.
– Avoid sexual intercourse 48 hours before the test.
– Do not douche 48 hours before the test.
– Do not use tampons, or vaginal creams, foams, films, or jellies (such as spermicides or medications inserted into the vagina) for 48 hours before the test