While you can perform self-exams to screen for breast cancer,there are no self-exams to screen for cervical cancer.
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) can be passed on through sexual contact and is the leading cause of cervical cancer.
There are no obvious signs or symptoms of cervical cancer, but to say one step ahead of any problems you need regular cervical cancer screenings at your local Planned Parenthood health center.
According to the CDC, cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for American women. Today, this is changing due to the availability of regular pap smears. The pap smear is essential to finding the cell changes that happen before cancer develops.
Early detection is the key to saving lives.
Why is Early Detection Important?
Early detection saves countless lives every year. The earlier cervical cancer is found, the easier it is to treat. Schedule your regular screening by calling 1-800-230-PLAN(7526) or visit your local Planned Parenthood health center.
How Often Should I Get Cervical Cancer Screening?
The American Cancer Society recommends regular cervical cancer screenings:
For women 20-29: every 3 years
For women 30-65: A pap smear combined with an HPV test every 5 years
Women older than 65 with normal results in all pap smear and HPV test results for the previous 10 years can stop cervical cancer screenings
What Should I Expect During my Cervical Cancer Screening?
Your cervical cancer screening can be combined with the rest of your well-woman exam.
The most common test for cervical cancer is the pap smear. When you come in for your regular check-up and cervical cancer screening, the health care professional will use a speculum (a metal or plastic instrument) to open the vagina and allow access to the cervix.
A small brush or swab will then be used to get a sample of cervical cells that can be sent to a lab to be analyzed. The lab will be able to see if the cervical cells show pr-cancerous changes or if they are perfectly healthy.
What Should I Do to Reduce My Chances of Cervical Cancer?
- Always use a condom. Condoms can help minimize the chances that you will get an HPV infection that could lead to cervical cancer
- Schedule your regular cervical cancer screenings at your local Planned Parenthood health center to stay one step ahead.