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Cervical cancer - screening and prevention

Cancer cervix - screening; HPV - cervical cancer screening; Dysplasia - cervical cancer screening; Cervical cancer - HPV vaccine

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Description

Cervical cancer is a cancer that starts in the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens at the top of the vagina.

There is a lot you can do to decrease your chance of having cervical cancer. Also, your health care provider can do tests to find early changes that may lead to cancer, or to find cervical cancer in the early stages.

Lifestyle and Safer Sex Habits

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV (human papilloma virus).

HPV can be passed from person to person even when there are no visible warts or other symptoms.

Vaccines to Prevent Cervical Cancer

A vaccine is available to protect against the HPV types that cause most cervical cancer in women. The vaccine is:

These safer sex practices can also help reduce your risk of getting HPV and cervical cancer:

Pap Smears

Cervical cancer often develops slowly. It starts as precancerous changes called dysplasia. Dysplasia can be detected by a medical test called a Pap smear.

Dysplasia is fully treatable. That is why it is important for women to get regular Pap smears, so that precancerous cells can be removed before they can become cancer.

Pap smear screening should start at age 21. After the first test:

Talk with your provider about how often you should have a Pap smear or HPV test.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV vaccine schedule and dosing. www.cdc.gov/hpv/hcp/schedules-recommendations.html. Updated March 10, 2017. Accessed August 5, 2019.

Salcedo MP, Baker ES, Schmeler KM. Intraepithelial neoplasia of the lower genital tract (cervix, vagina, vulva): etiology, screening, diagnosis, management. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 28.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Committee on Adolescent Health Care, Immunization Expert Work Group. Committee Opinion Number 704, June 2017. www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Adolescent-Health-Care/Human-Papillomavirus-Vaccination. Accessed August 5, 2019.

US Preventive Services Task Force, Curry SJ, Krist AH, Owens DK, et al. Screening for cervical cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2018;320(7):674-686. PMID: 30140884 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30140884.

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Review Date: 6/30/2019  

Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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