Cervical Cancer Screening Exams

How often you get tested for cervical cancer depends on your chances for getting the disease.

Having one or more risks for cervical cancer does not mean you will definitely get the disease. It means that you may be more likely to get cervical cancer. If you are at increased risk for cervical cancer, you may need to begin testing earlier and/or be tested more often. Look at the lists below to find out if you are at average or increased risk for cervical cancer.

Increased Risk

Women at increased risk have a higher chance of getting cervical cancer than women at average risk.  Women at increased risk include those who have:

  • History of cervical cancer or severe cervical dysplasia (pre-cancer)
  • Persistent Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection after age 30 (HPV testing not recommended in women younger than age 30)
  • An immune system that does not function properly
  • Been infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth

If you fit one or more items from the list above, you should follow one of the screening schedules below. These guidelines are for women without any cervical cancer symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should see your health care provider as soon as possible.

History of Cervical Cancer or Severe Cervical Dysplasia

  • Get a liquid-based Pap test every year after treatment for cervical cancer or severe cervical dysplasia for at least 20 years

Persistent HPV Test

Women with persistent Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) tests should speak with their doctor about diagnostic testing for abnormal cells.

DES and Suppressed Immune Systems

Women with diethylstilbestrol exposure before birth, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or an immune system that does not function properly should follow the screening schedule below:

  • Get a liquid-based Pap test every year

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Women with HIV should get a liquid-based Pap test twice in the first year after their diagnosis and then continue screening every year.

All women should continue annual well-woman check-ups with a health care provider even during years when a Pap test is not required. Women who have received the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine also should follow the above screening guidelines.

These screening guidelines apply to women who are expected to live for at least another 10 years. The guidelines are not for women who have a health condition that would make it hard for a health care provider to treat cervical cancer or pre-cancer.

Average Risk

If you none of the above bullets apply to you, then you may be at average risk for cervical cancer.

 

Cervical Cancer Screening: Average Risk

The following cervical cancer screening guidelines are for women at average risk for the disease. They also are for women who do not have any cervical cancer symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should see your health care provider as soon as possible.

Women at average risk for cervical cancer include those who have:

  • Never had cervical cancer or severe cervical dysplasia (pre-cancer)
  • No persistent Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection after age 30 (HPV testing not recommended in women younger than age 30)
  • An immune system that functions properly
  • Not been infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • No diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth

If you fit this description, you should follow one of the screening schedules below:

Age 20 and younger:

  • No screening recommended

Age 21 to 29, you should:

  • Get a liquid-based Pap test every two years

Age 30 to 65, you should:

  • Get a liquid-based Pap test and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test every three years as long as your results are negative
  • Speak with your doctor about a different testing schedule if your test results are positive

Age 65 and older:

  • If you have had three or more negative Pap tests, and no positive Pap test, in the last 10 years, speak with your doctor about whether you should continue screening. Women at increased risk for cervical cancer should continue the age 30 to 65 screening recommendations as long as they are in good health.

Age 30 and older, who have had a hysterectomy but have not had cervical cancer or severe cervical dysplasia, you should:

  • Speak with your doctor about whether you should continue screening if your hysterectomy included removal of the cervix.
  • Get a liquid-based Pap test and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test if your hysterectomy did not include removal of the cervix. Repeat these tests every three years if both test results are normal.

All women should continue annual well-woman check-ups with a health care provider even during years when a Pap test is not required. Women who have received the HPV vaccine also should follow the above screening guidelines.

These screening guidelines apply to women who are expected to live for at least another 10 years. The guidelines are not for women who have a health condition that would make it hard for a health care provider to treat cervical cancer or pre-cancer.