By Mary Perry
An important question arises at the outset of each new year – and in this case, a new decade:
“Ladies, have you had your Pap?”
A Pap test is used to detect cervical cancer or precancerous changes. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. It’s also an ideal time to schedule your Pap test.
You and your doctor can decide when it’s time for you to begin Pap testing and how frequently you should have the test.
A few other frequently asked questions and answers regarding the Pap test and cervical cancer follow.
How often do you need a Pap test?
- In general, doctors recommend beginning Pap testing at age 21.
- Between ages 21 and 30 it is recommended to have one every three years.
- Between ages 30 and 65, you need a Pap plus HPV testing, which is called co-testing, every five years.
- Over age 65, if you’ve had good screenings in the past, you no longer need one.
Are there other ways to prevent cervical cancer?
- Cervical cancer is almost always caused by a virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). There now is a vaccine against this. Vaccinate your children starting at age 11 or 12.
- Don’t smoke, or kick the habit if you are a smoker.
- Use condoms.
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
Of course, the health care providers at CVMG are here to support you and provide guidance in this important matter.
So, enjoy the year ahead and make sure “Yes” is the answer to the question, “Have you had your Pap?”