How to Prevent Cervical Cancer
Getting regular screenings for cervical cancer can help find abnormal or changed cervical cells before they turn into cervical cancer. Pap tests, also known as pap smears, and HPV (human papillomavirus) tests can be used to find abnormal cervical cells.
Most deaths from cervical cancer can be prevented if women get regular cervical screenings and follow-up care.
If you are 21 to 29, get screened with a Pap test (Pap smear) every 3 years.
If you are age 30 to 65, get screened every 3 years if you have a Pap test only and screen every 5 years if you have both a Pap test and HPV test.
Some women may need to get screened more often. For example, your doctor may recommend that you get an annual screening if you’ve had questionable or abnormal results in the past. If you are age 66 or older, ask your doctor if you need to continue regular cervical cancer screenings.
You can prevent cervical cancer by scheduling your cervical cancer screening with your doctor. Schedule the test for around a time that you won’t have your period. When getting ready for your test, remember that some things can cause an incorrect Pap test result. For 2 days before your test, doctors recommend that you do not:
- Use tampons
- Have sex
- Douche (rinse the vagina with water or another liquid)
- Use vaginal deodorant (sprays or powers)
When you get screened, ask the doctor how you will find out the results. The kind of results you can differ on the type of test.
- Pap tests results can be “normal,” “unclear,” or “abnormal.”
- HPV test results can be “positive” or “negative.”
It can take up to 3 weeks to get your results. If you don’t hear back from your doctor within a 3 week period, call your doctor’s office or local clinic to follow-up.
Testing for cervical cancer is covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get tested at no-cost to you.
- If you have private insurance, contact Medicare Pathways for a plan review to ensure what is included in your health plan coverage for Pap tests and HPV screenings.
- If you have Medicare Part B, you are covered for Pap tests and pelvic exams to check for cervical and vaginal cancers. As part of the exam, Part B also covers a clinical breast exam. Part B covers these screening tests once every 24 months for all women and once every 12 months if you’re at high risk for cervical or vaginal cancer, or if you’re of childbearing age and have had an abnormal Pap test in the past 36 months.
- If you do not have insurance, contact us to learn more about affordable options to ensure you are covered.
For more information on preventing cervical cancer, visit:
You can also contact Medicare Pathways and speak with a licensed sales agent to review your plan and ensure your prevention is covered.