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Cervical Cancer Awareness

Actress Cote de Pablo talks about her own cervical cancer scare and shares advice for other women in this video.

You can prevent cervical cancer by getting screened regularly, starting at age 21.

“I was busy working, traveling, and enjoying life. I completely forgot to pay attention to my health,” said actress Cote de Pablo. “Too much time passed since my last Pap.

“By the time I was tested, things didn’t look too good. We thought I might have cervical cancer.

“I was lucky! After lots of worries—no cancer.

“I’ve always been very close to my mother. When we finally got good results, she broke down. And that’s when I realized it’s not just about me. It’s about your loved ones, too. Get checked for cervical cancer.”

Screening Tests

Two tests help prevent cervical cancer or find it early—

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.

Screening Options

You should get your first Pap test at age 21. If your test result is normal, you can wait three years for your next test.

If you’re 30 years old or older, you have three options—

  • You can continue getting a Pap test only. If your test result is normal, you can wait three years for your next test.
  • You can get an HPV test only. If your test result is normal, you can wait five years for your next test.
  • You can get both an HPV and Pap test together. If your test results are normal, you can wait five years for your next tests.

If you have a low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get free or low-cost cervical cancer screening through CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Find out if you qualify.

HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. HPV can also cause cancers of the penis in men, and anal and head and neck cancers in both men and women.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls who are 11 to 12 years old, but can be given as early as age 9 and until age 26.

Make an appointment today for your or your child’s vaccination. If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance does not cover vaccines, CDC’s Vaccines for Children program may be able to help.

Learn More About Cervical Cancer

CDC’s Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer campaign has many resources for women. Watch the new Knowledge Is Power: Cervical Cancer video and check out the Inside Knowledge symptoms diary, cervical cancer fact sheet, and survivor stories.

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