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Why Cervical Cancer Screening is Important

Early screening can prevent cervical cancer. Every year in Bernalillo County, seven women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Three of these women will die. In the U.S., Hispanic women get cervical cancer more than twice as often as Anglos. African-American women get this cancer about 50% more often than whites do.

Your risk of getting cervical cancer is higher if you:

  • Have the HPV virus (the human papillomavirus)
  • Smoke
  • Have a family history of cervical cancer
  • Have other risk factors, like being overweight or having a poor diet

Talk with your provider about your health and risk factors. He or she will tell you how often you should get a Pap test. Regular Pap tests help find problems at an early stage. That's when treatment has the best chance of success.

Here is a general guide for finding cervical cancer early:

If you are a woman… You should…
21 years old Get a Pap test.
21 to 30 years old Get a Pap test at least once every 2 years.
30 to 64 years old Get a Pap test every 2 to 3 years based on your past test results and your risk factors. Talk with your provider about how often you should have a Pap test.
65 years and older Depending on your past test results and your risk factors, you can stop having Pap tests. Talk with your provider about if or when you should stop having Pap tests.

Based on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Frequently Asked Questions: The Pap Test

 

Note:
The information on this page was compiled by the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality from a variety of sources, including (but not limited to) American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, American Cancer Society, and Mayo Clinic. This information summarizes core care elements appropriate to most adult women. This information should not be construed as representing standards of care nor a substitute for individualized evaluation and treatment on clinical circumstances by a qualified health care professional. Please see our disclaimer.

For more information about this complex health issue, please see the Cervical Cancer Links page for resources and information sources.

An initiative of the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with additional funding provided by HealthInsight New Mexico