Did you know that cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer for women worldwide? While this statistic can be startling the good news is that it is one of the most preventable cancers. A cervical cancer screening is one of the best and most reliable tools our OBGYN has to detect cancerous and precancerous cells within the cervix. This screening is most often referred to as a Pap test.
What is a Pap test?
Women as young as 21 years old should start getting routine cervical cancer screenings from their OBGYN. If results from the first Pap smear are normal then women between the ages of 21 to 29 will only need to get a Pap test every three years. Women with an abnormal Pap will require a repeat Pap test to look for the presence of precancerous cells.
Women between the ages of 30 to 65 should get a cervical cancer screening every 5 years. Once a woman reaches 65 years old, she usually won’t need to undergo cervical cancer screenings any longer. Women at high risk for cervical cancer may need to come in more often for screenings. This is something that you can discuss with your gynecologist during your first screening or next annual wellness exam.
Are there other ways to prevent cervical cancer?
Along with getting routine cervical cancer screenings your OBGYN can also provide a way to protect young women from contracting HPV, a common STI that is also the leading cause of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is often recommended for young women around the age of 11 or 12.
This vaccine can be administered to women between the ages of 13 and 26 who have not contracted HPV. The vaccine comes in three doses and it protects against the strains of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer. Even if women have received the HPV vaccine they should still come in for routine screenings and checkups.
Whether you want to learn more about the HPV vaccine or you need to schedule your annual checkup and Pap smear, turn to your OBGYN today to take an active interest in your reproductive health.