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Cervical Cancer Screening Exams

Cervical cancer screening exams help find cervical cancer at an early stage. When found early, the chances for successfully treating the disease are greatest.

Along with regular exams, practice awareness. This means you should be familiar with your body. That way you’ll notice changes, like irregular bleeding or discharge. Then, report them to your doctor without delay.

Make sure you get a well-woman checkup every year even if you don’t need a screening exam. If you’ve had the HPV vaccine, you still need to be screened. 

The screening recommendations below apply to most women.

Age 21 to 29

Age 30 to 64

OR

  • Pap test every three years

Age 65 or older

You may not need additional exams if you’ve had no unusual Pap or HPV test results in the past 10 years. Discuss this with your doctor.

Exams for women who’ve had a hysterectomy

If you’ve have had a hysterectomy, but have not had cervical cancer or severe cervical dysplasia, you should:

  • Speak with your doctor about whether you should continue screening if your hysterectomy included removal of the cervix.
  • Get a Pap test and HPV test every five years if your hysterectomy didn’t include removal of the cervix.

Exams for women at increased risk

Women at increased risk have a higher chance of getting cervical cancer.

This doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get cancer. But, you may need to start screening at an earlier age, get additional tests or be tested more often.

You’re at increased risk for cervical cancer if you fall under one or more of these groups.

  • History of severe cervical dysplasia, which is a pre-cancerous condition
  • Persistent HPV infection after age 30
  • An immune system that doesn’t function properly, such as organ transplant recipients and those taking medications to suppress their immune system
  • History of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth

Suspect you may be at increased risk? Print and share MD Anderson’s cervical cancer screening chart with your doctor.

Exams for women who’ve had cervical cancer

If you’ve had cervical cancer, you need a different plan to check for cancer recurrence.

Print and share MD Anderson’s survivorship chart with your doctor. Your doctor can use this chart to develop a more tailored plan for you.

The screening plans on this page apply to women expected to live for at least 10 years. They’re not for women who have a health condition that may make it hard to diagnose or treat cervical cancer.

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For Physicians

Use our flowchart to determine cancer screening recommendations for patients. 


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center