Screening and Prevention
It is generally recommended that all women, starting at age 21 should begin scheduling an annual exam. During this exam a physician will screen for cervical cancer, breast cancer, discuss reproductive and general health issues with each patient.
Early detection is the key to treating cancer. A Pap test is performed at the annual exam and can reveal abnormal cells caused by infections such as (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease in this country. HPV can cause dysplasia and increase a women's risk for developing cervical cancer. Other women who may have a higher risk of cervical cancer include those who:
- do not get regular Pap tests
- became sexually active before age 16
- have had many sexual partners
- smoke cigarettes