Cervical Cancer Screening
Pap tests are important because they can find cervical cancer or abnormal cells that can lead to cervical cancer. Doctors generally recommend that:
- Women should begin having Pap tests 3 years after they begin having sexual intercourse, or when they reach age 21 (whichever comes first).
- Most women should have a Pap test at least once every 3 years. Talk to your doctor about what schedule is best for you.
- Women aged 65 to 70 who have had at least three normal Pap tests and no abnormal Pap tests in the past 10 years may decide, after speaking with their doctor, to stop screening for cervical cancer.
- Women who have had a hysterectomy (surgery) to remove the uterus and cervix, also called a total hysterectomy, do not need to have cervical cancer screening. However, if the surgery was performed as treatment for precancerous cells or cancer, the woman should continue screening.
Women should talk with their doctor about when they should begin having Pap tests, how often they should have them, and when they can stop having them. This is especially important for women who are at higher-than-average risk of cervical cancer.