Cervical Cancer Screening: What You Need to Know
Almost 13,000 cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed each year, with over 4,000 women dying from the disease. However, pre-cancers are diagnosed far more often than invasive cancer. Since the adoption of the Pap smear, the incidence of invasive cervical cancer has dramatically decreased over the past 30 years.
Risk factors Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. Other risk factors include: smoking, immunosupression (especially HIV), Chlamydia infection, obesity, long term oral contraceptive use, multiple full term pregnancies, age under 17 at first full term pregnancy, poverty, maternal use of DES and a family history of cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer screening guidelines have changed over recent years. The US Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society guidelines recommend a Pap smear every 3 years in women 21-65 years of age. HPV testing combined with Pap smear every 5 years in women aged 30-65 years is now also considered an adequate alternative for those preferring a longer screening interval.
The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology has released guidelines for the management of abnormal results.
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