Check Yourself During Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

By: Ashmar Mandou

During the past several decades, screening – testing for cancer before symptoms develop – has reduced deaths from cervical cancer, as doctors have been able to find cancer early and treat it, or prevent it from developing. In honor of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society shares the following screening guidelines to help protect women.

Screening Guidelines

Following the American Cancer Society screening guidelines can help find pre-cancers to prevent them from becoming cancer. Screening can also help find cervical cancer early when it might be easier to treat.

– All women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21.

– Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. They should not be tested for HPV unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result.

– Women ages 30 to 65 should have both a Pap test and an HPV test every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.

– Women over age 65 who have had regular screenings with normal results should not be screened for cervical cancer. Women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer or pre-cancer should continue to be screened according to the recommendations of their doctor.

– Women who have had their uterus and cervix removed in a hysterectomy and have no history of cervical cancer or pre-cancer should not be screened.

– Women who have had the HPV vaccine should still follow the screening recommendations for their age group.

– Women who are at high risk for cervical cancer may need to be screened more often. Women at high risk might include those with HIV infection, organ transplant, or exposure to the drug DES. They should talk with their doctor or nurse.

– The American Cancer Society recommends that women do not get a Pap test or HPV test every year, because it generally takes much longer than that, 10 to 20 years, for cervical cancer to develop and frequent screening often leads to procedures that are not needed.

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