Cervical screenings save lives

Cervical screenings save lives

One of the great successes in healthcare over the past 30 years is that we have significantly reduced both the incidence and death rates of cervical cancer in the United States.  These improvements are the direct result of the widespread availability of cervical cancer screenings commonly called Pap tests or Pap smears.

Unfortunately, some women in the United States will still be diagnosed with cervical cancer.  The majority of women in this country who develop this disease either have not had appropriate cervical cancer screenings or failed to follow-up if a screening test was abnormal.

Screening strategies for cervical cancer, its precursors and your risk of developing the disease vary by age and history; however, general guidelines from the American College of Gynecologists are as follows:

  • Women aged 21–29 years should have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
  • Women aged 30–65 years should have a Pap test and a human papilloma virus (HPV) test every 5 years (preferred). It also is acceptable to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.

Ask your health care professional about the most appropriate screening strategy for you.

Another way to help prevent cervical cancer is to receive the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination. This vaccine is recommended for all adolescents. However, if you did not receive the vaccine when you were younger, talk to your provider to find out if it is right for you.

For more information or to schedule a screening, call Marshall Obstetrics & Gynecology at 304-691-1400.

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David Jude, MD

Dr. Jude is a board-certified OB/GYN and professor and chair of the department of obstetrics & gynecology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

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