Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. Today, the number of deaths from cervical cancer has declined, mainly due to the effectiveness of regular Pap test screening in detecting early pre-cancers and recently the increase in HPV vaccinations.
Two vaccines for HPV (the human papillomavirus), a leading cause of cervical cancer, are available. Both have been rigorously tested and found to be safe and effective. “A vaccine against the two types of HPV that cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers can reduce the risk of infection even further,” said Dr. Sharad Ghamande, Director of Gynecology Oncology at the Georgia Cancer Center.
Guidelines for cervical cancer vaccine and screening
Who should get the HPV vaccine?
- Girls and boys starting at age 11.
- Young adults up until the age of 26.
Who should receive Pap screening?
- All women should get yearly Pap tests starting about three years after they start having sex or no later than age 21.
- Beginning at age 30, most women who have had three normal Pap test results in a row may be tested less often – every two to three years. After age 30, your primary care physician may recommend a Pap/HPV co-test.