In its early stages, cervical cancer has no symptoms, making it difficult to detect. That’s why regular screenings are the best way to prevent cervical cancer.
Women have more treatment options when cervical cancer is found early.
A Pap smear, which screens for cervical cancer, is recommended for women between 21 and 65. You may also need an HPV test after you turn 30.
Generally, you should have these tests at least every three years unless the results are unclear or abnormal. In cases where you had normal Pap and HPV test results, you could wait five years until your next test.
An abnormal test result doesn’t automatically mean cancer. It means test results show changes in the cervix, and your doctor may want to look further. Those could be minor changes that go back to normal on their own, or serious changes, often called “precancer.”
However, HPV test results are more straightforward to understand. A test is either positive or negative.
If your HPV test is positive, it means you’re more likely to develop cervical cancer in the future. Your provider may ask for additional tests or monitor your condition. If found early, abnormal cells can be treated before they become cancerous.
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