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American Cancer Society Has Updated Screening Recommendations 

Colchester, VT – January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is now followingnew cervical cancer screening guidelines established by the American Cancer Society.

Starting at age 25, people with a cervix should get an HPV (Human Papillomavirus) test every five years. Previously, a Pap test was recommended every three years starting at 21 years old. For individuals ages 65 and older, cervical cancer screening guidance remains the same. If a patient has a series of normal screening test results over a long period of time, no additional screenings are recommended. HPV tests are done the same way as a Pap test, by collecting a sample of cervical cells. 

Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD). Using an HPV test allows health care providers to look for high-risk types of HPV and abnormal changes and treat HPV before cancer develops. There is a safe, effective vaccine that prevents people from getting the common infection that leads to cervical cancer. The vaccine against HPV is available for people ages 9 to 45 and also prevents other cancers caused by the HPV virus such as penis and oropharyngeal (back of the throat) cancer.  

People of color experience higher rates of cervical cancer due to barriers in accessing immunization and screening due to systemic racism in our health care systems. According to the American Cancer Society, most cervical cancers are found in people who have never had a Pap test or who have not had one recently. 

Statement from Donna Burkett, MD, Medical Director of PPNNE:

“Cervical cancer is treatable, especially when it is detected early. Latinx and Black people experience higher rates of cervical cancer in this country because of systemic racism. Regular attention to cervical cancer screening can be one step in preventing cervical cancer in these populations. We are committed to deepening our understanding of the effect of these guidelines and access to screening for these patients in particular. Together we can make a plan to prevent, detect, and treat cervical cancer.” 

New cervical cancer screening guidelines adopted by PPNNE

  • Ages 21-24: No screening recommended 
  • Ages 25-65: HPV test every 5 years 
  • Ages 65+: No screening if a series of prior tests were normal 

Additional information and FAQs about the new cervical cancer screening guidelines can be found here.