Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes genital warts and cancers, such as cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and oropharynx (back of the throat and tonsils). Currently, there is only routine screening for HPV for one of these HPV cancers: cervical cancer.
New guidelines [2 pages] recommend that women aged 30 years and older get the HPV test at the same time as the Pap test. The use of these two tests to screen for cervical cancer may be referred to as co-testing. While the Pap test helps find cell changes on the cervix, the HPV test checks for the HPV virus that can cause these cell changes.
If both tests are negative, the risk for cervical cancer is very low and women can wait five years before another screening. HPV tests also may be used to provide more information when a Pap test has unclear results.
Women ages 21 to 30 years should get a Pap test every three years, or as directed by their doctor. Women over 30 may choose to get a Pap test without an HPV test every three years. Talk with your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional about whether the HPV test is right for you.
Currently, there are no routine screening tests for HPV on the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, or back of the throat and tonsils. However, you should continue to visit your doctor regularly for checkups.
- National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. If you have a low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get a free or low-cost Pap test through this program. Find out if you qualify.
- Cervical Cancer Screening
- Cervical Cancer Screening guidelines [2 pages]
- Page last reviewed: January 22, 2015
- Page last updated: January 22, 2015
- Content source: