Prevent Cervical Cancer
January 11, 2022
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. It is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Learn about the appropriate screening tests and the HPV vaccine to help prevent cervical cancer.
All women are at risk for cervical cancer. However, data show it occurs most often in women over the age of 30. Black and Hispanic women experience higher rates of HPV-associated cervical cancer than non-Hispanic women and women of other races and ethnicities. In 2018, there were an estimated 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer worldwide. The common virus human papillomavirus (HPV) causes almost all cervical cancers. When found early, cervical cancer is highly treatable and associated with long-term quality of life.
Cervical Cancer Prevention
Cervical cancer is a preventable and curable disease if detected early and managed effectively. CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC) leads CDC’s efforts in preventing and detecting cancers early and improving the overall health of cancer survivors. For example, CDC’s Inside Knowledge About Gynecologic Cancer Campaign shares educational materials with communities and healthcare providers on five types of cancers, including cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides breast and cervical cancer screenings, diagnostic, and treatment services to women who have low incomes and are uninsured or underinsured.
- Routine cancer screenings help prevent cervical cancer. The United States Preventive Services Task Forceexternal icon and the World Health Organizationexternal icon both recommend that women receive appropriate cervical cancer screenings. These screenings help to identify precancers that may lead to cervical cancer. In the United States, women aged 21– 65 years, who receive regular cervical cancer screenings, are less likely to get cervical cancer and less likely to die from it. Women aged 21-29 years should receive a Pap Test to screen for cervical cancer. Women aged 30-65 years have three available options for cervical cancer screening: Pap testing alone, HPV testing alone, and HPV and Pap testing together. Women who are 65 years old or older should consult their healthcare provider about whether they need to continue cervical cancer screening.
- HPV vaccination is safe and effective. CDC recommends HPV vaccination at age 11 or 12 years (or can start at age 9 years) and for everyone through age 26 years, if not vaccinated already. For teens and young adults (15 – 26 years), who are not vaccinated, CDC recommends three doses of the vaccine. Three doses are also recommended for:
Working Together to Reduce Cervical Cancer
What can communities do?
- Collaborate with partners and advocates to educate community members on the prevention and control of cervical cancer.
- Build partnerships with local public health organizations and health departments to advise community members about cervical cancer prevention.
- Identify ways to increase accessibility to cervical cancer services with your local health officials, to address challenges such as transportation and healthcare costs, that may deter one from seeking medical care.
- Point community members to HPV vaccinations and cervical cancer screenings.
- Communicate accurate and culturally-sensitive public health messages about cervical cancer prevention.