Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, with regular screening tests and follow-up. Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for pre-cancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.
These areas can be monitored by your doctor or nurse and treated before turning into something more serious.
Well-woman exams generally include a Pap test or HPV test as needed, starting when you turn 21 years old. Most people only need these tests every 3-5 years since cancer takes a very long time to develop. Your doctor or nurse will let you know how often you should be tested. Contact an Obria Medical Clinic to schedule an exam.
How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
If you have an abnormal Pap test or positive HPV test result, your doctor or nurse may suggest more tests or treatment. This testing can be another Pap test, an HPV test, or a colposcopy — a procedure that helps your doctor look more closely at your cervix to see if there are precancerous cells.
During a colposcopy, they might also do a biopsy – a procedure to remove a small piece of tissue from your cervix. The tissue is sent to a lab and examined for signs of cervical cancer.