Cervical Cancer Prevention
WellStar supports scientific research that shows certain lifestyle choices can lower a person’s risk.
Help Reduce Your Risk of Cervical Cancer
The invention of a vaccine to immunize girls from the HPV is being hailed as a major breakthrough. However, before the vaccine was approved by the nation’s Food and Drug Administration, the Pap test – once called a Pap smear – began to cut cervical cancer rates dramatically.
Pap tests, which involve taking a small sample of tissue from the cervix with a small, spatula-type instrument and a swab, detect abnormalities in cervical cells long before they develop into cancer.
The American Cancer Society and WellStar physicians recommend yearly Pap tests from the time a girl or woman becomes sexually active until age 30. At that time, if a woman has not had an abnormal Pap test in three years, the ACS recommends a Pap Test once every three years. However, women who have gone through menopause as well as women who are no longer sexually active still need to have Pap tests – with 20 percent of those diagnosed with cervical cancer being older than 65.
Tests and Screenings for Cervical Cancer
The Pap test. Few cancers have as effective a screening test as the one for cervical cancer. Thus, your WellStar physician will recommend that you follow the guidelines of the American Cancer Society and begin having annual Pap tests as soon as you become sexually active.
HPV DNA test. This HPV DNA test is used to determine whether you are infected with any of the 13 types of HPV that are most likely to lead to cervical cancer. Like the Pap test, the HPV DNA test involves collecting cells from the cervix for lab testing. (The HPV DNA test is not typically performed in women who have normal Pap smear results.)