How often should you get a PAP smear?

January is cervical cancer awareness month. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that arises from the cervix in women, and can spread to other organs.

Every year 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

Most women with cervical cancer do not have symptoms initially. Late symptoms include bleeding and pain.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infections are responsible for 90% of cervical cancer cases. Other risk factors include tobacco smoking and immune system problems.

What can be done for early detection and prevention of cervical cancer?

Vaccination against HPV can prevent 90% of cervical cancer cases!

Interestingly, women who get IUDs (intra-uterine devices such as Mirena) have a 30% lower risk of cervical cancer. Use of condoms also decreases risk.

Current recommendations for early diagnosis includes having a PAP smear performed every three years for women starting at age 21, and continuing to age 65. Women should be screened for HPV every 5 years.

PAP smear:


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