Two tests help prevent cervical cancer or find it early: The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
You should get your first Pap test at age 21. If your test result is normal, you can wait three years to test again.
If you’re 30 years old or older, you have three options:
• You can continue getting a Pap test only. If your test result is normal, you can wait three years to test again.
• You can get an HPV test only. If your test result is normal, you can wait five years to test again.
• You can get both an HPV and Pap test together. If your test results are normal, you can wait five years to test again.
The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancers. HPV can also cause other kinds of cancer in both men and women.
HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given starting at age 9. HPV vaccine also is recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if they are not vaccinated already.
Some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination.
HPV vaccination prevents new HPV infections, but does not treat existing infections or diseases. This is why the HPV vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV. You should get screened for cervical cancer regularly, even if you received an HPV vaccine. — Source: CDC
Appointments for HPV vaccinations can be scheduled at the Clinton County Health District by calling 937-382-3829.
Pam Daniel, MSN, RN is Health Educator for the Clinton County Health District.