Cervical Cancer

[sur-vi-kuh l] [kan-ser]

Three women

Most cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that is passed from person to person during sex. Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer. The Pap test looks for cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated, and the HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes. HPV vaccines can protect women against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable. The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screening tests regularly starting at age 21.

Quiz

Key Facts

  • The most important way to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screening tests regularly starting at age 21.
  • Most women don’t need a Pap test every year! If your test results are normal, you may be able to wait 3 years.
  • HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. Get kids vaccinated against HPV at age 11-12 to help prevent cervical cancer.
  • Early cervical cancer may not cause symptoms. Advanced cervical cancer may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge.
  • If your test results are not normal, talk to your doctor. Cervical cancer is highly curable when found and treated early.

Media

Teenage girl getting vaccinated

Get Your Kids Vaccinated

HPV vaccines protect against HPV infection and the health problems it can cause, including cervical cancer. HPV vaccines are recommended for girls and boys at age 11-12. Teen girls and women through age 26 and teen boys and men through age 21 can also be vaccinated if they did not get the vaccine when they were younger.

Woman with gynecologist

Get Screened Regularly

The Pap test looks for abnormal cells on your cervix, so they can be treated before they turn into cancer. Women should start getting Pap tests at age 21. The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these abnormal cells. Women who are 30 years old or older can get a Pap test only, an HPV test only, or both tests together.

Cote de Pablo for Inside Knowledge screenshot play video

Cote de Pablo for Inside Knowledge

Are You Listening screenshot play video

Are You Listening?

Screenshot from HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention video play video

HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention

HPV Vaccine Podcast

Transcript »Cdc-pdf

Prevention Tips

  • The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screened regularly.
  • If you’re 26 years old or younger, get the HPV vaccine.
  • Use condoms during sex.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Don’t smoke.

More at CDC.gov

Page last reviewed: August 27, 2018