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Cervical Cancer Screening

Summary

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, the place where a baby grows during pregnancy. Cancer screening is looking for cancer before you have any symptoms. Cancer found early may be easier to treat.

Cervical cancer screening is usually part of a woman's health checkup. There are two types of tests: the Pap test and the HPV test. For both, the doctor or nurse collects cells from the surface of the cervix. With the Pap test, the lab checks the sample for cancer cells or abnormal cells that could become cancer later. With the HPV test, the lab checks for HPV infection. HPV is a virus that spreads through sexual contact. It can sometimes lead to cancer. If your screening tests are abnormal, your doctor may do more tests, such as a biopsy.

Cervical cancer screening has risks. The results can sometimes be wrong, and you may have unnecessary follow-up tests. There are also benefits. Screening has been shown to decrease the number of deaths from cervical cancer. You and your doctor should discuss your risk for cervical cancer, the pros and cons of the screening tests, at what age to start being screened, and how often to be screened.

Start Here

  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • Easy-to-Read (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)
  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF
  • Infographic (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in

Related Issues

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Specifics

  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • Pap Smear From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) - PDF

Images

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)

Health Check Tools

  • (Siteman Cancer Center)

Statistics and Research

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF

Find an Expert

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Patient Handouts

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