Cervical Cancer Screenings Could Lead to Early Detection
Significant progress has been made regarding detection, prevention and treatment of cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. However, in the past 40 years, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly. Screenings to test for cancer before symptoms develop has made a life-saving impact.
Physicians now have a better chance of finding and treating the cancer early, thus increasing the patient’s chances of overcoming the disease.
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. This observance provides an opportunity to learn about cervical cancer. It also emphasizes the importance of testing, detection and prevention of the disease.
By the numbers
The American Cancer Society estimated in 2019 that approximately 13,170 new cases of invasive cervical cancer would be diagnosed and about 4,250 women would die from cervical cancer during the year.
These numbers are staggering especially because the disease is virtually always preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests).
Guidelines to prevention
The American Cancer Society provides guidelines for cervical cancer screening:
- All women should begin cervical cancer testing (screening) at age 21. Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every 3 years.
- Beginning at age 30, the preferred way to screen is with a Pap test combined with an HPV test every 5 years. This is called co-testing and should continue until age 65.
- Another reasonable option for women 30 to 65 is to get tested every 3 years with just the Pap test.
- Women who are at high risk of cervical cancer because of a suppressed immune system (for example from HIV infection, organ transplant, or long-term steroid use) or because they were exposed to DES in utero may need to be screened more often. They should follow the recommendations of their health care team.
To see more information on these guidelines or for additional information, click here.