Cervical cancer is 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, tests done by your health care provider can find early changes that may lead to cancer or find cervical cancer in the early stages.
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.
Practicing safer sex can help reduce your risk of getting HPV and cervical cancer:
Two vaccines are available that protect against the HPV types that cause most cervical cancer in women:
Dysplasia is 100% treatable. This is why it is important for women to get regular Pap smears.
Pap smear screening should start at age 21. After the first test:
Talk with your health care provider about how often you should have a Pap smear.
American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Infectious Diseases. Policy Statement: HPV vaccine recommendations. Pediatrics. 2012. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-3865.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years and Adults Aged 19 Years and Older — United States, 2013. MMWR. 2013;62(Suppl1):1-19.
Noller KL. Intraepithelial neoplasia of the lower genital tract (cervix, vulva): etiology, screening, diagnostic techniques, management. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 28.
Saslow D, Solomon D, Lawson HW, et al. American Cancer Society, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society for Clinical Pathology screening guidelines for the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012;62(3):147-72.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for cervical cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2012;156:880-91.
Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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