How Often Should You Undergo Gynecologic Cancer Screening

Gynecological cancer describes any cancer that originates within the female reproductive system. It, thus, includes cancer of the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and cervix. The risk factors vary depending on the type of cancer, and so does the advice regarding when to undergo a gynecologic cancer screening.

It is also worth noting that the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause a number of cancers, including those of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. The HPV vaccine, which has been available since 2006, can prevent patients from developing these cancers.

What is the Pap Smear?

The Pap smear is arguably the grandmother of gynecologic cancer screening tests, for it was introduced in the 1950s. It is used to test for cervical cancer. A speculum is used to widen the patient’s vagina so the specialist can examine the cervix and vagina. The medical professional will then collect some cells from the cervix and examine them. The entire procedure takes just minutes.

Women who are between 21 and 65 years old should get Pap smears once every three years. Women who are between 30 and 65 years old can undergo a combined test that pairs a Pap smear with the HPV DNA test once every five years.

After a woman reaches the age of 30, she can undergo Pap smears once every five years assuming the last test yielded normal results. Women with the following risk factors may need to undergo Pap smears more frequently:

What is the HPV DNA Test?

The HPV DNA test is a screening test used to check for HPV cells in the cervix. There are many types of HPV, and some can cause cancer. The test can be done on its own or in conjunction with the Pap smear. HPV infections are very common, especially in women under 30. Since it takes years for the virus to cause cancerous changes in cells, doctors generally only recommend the HPV DNA test for women under 30 if they had an abnormal Pap smear. Women between 30 and 65 should get the HPV DNA test along with a Pap smear once every five years.

Learn More Information

If you are curious about whether or not you should undergo a gynecologic cancer screening, reach out to us at Orange Blossom Women’s Group in Trinity. Our team would be more than happy to help. Contact us today to book an appointment and get started.

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