Cervical Cancer Screening

Two screening tests that can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic can help prevent cervical cancer or help find it at an early stage include:

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that could become cervical cancer if they are not treated properly.
    • Your cells will be checked to see if they appear to be normal in this test.
    • The doctor will use an instrument, called a speculum, to widen your vagina. This helps the doctor examine the vagina and the cervix, and collect a few cells and mucus samples from the cervix and the surrounding areas. The cells are sent to a laboratory for testing.
    • A Pap test only. If your test result is normal, your doctor may inform you that you can wait three years until the next test is needed.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.
    • Your cells will be tested for human papillomavirus (HPV) in this test.
    • An HPV test only. This is referred to as primary HPV testing. If your result is normal, your doctor may inform you that you can wait five years until the next test is needed.
    • An HPV test along with the Pap test. This is referred to as co-testing. If both of your results are normal, your doctor may inform you that you can wait five years until your next test is needed.
  • How to Prepare for Your Pap or HPV Test
  • You should not schedule your test during the time when you are menstruating. If you are going to have a test in the next two days—
    • Refrain from douching (rinse the vagina with water or another fluid).
    • Refrain from tampon use.
    • Refrain from sexual intercourse.
    • Refrain from using birth control foam, cream, or jelly.
    • Refrain from using medicine or cream in your vagina.


When to Get Screened
  • If You Are 21 to 29 Years Old
    • You should begin getting Pap tests at age 21. If your test results come back normal, your doctor may inform you that you can wait three years until the next test is needed.
  • If You Are 30 to 65 Years Old
    • Talk to your doctor about which testing option is right for you.
  • If You Are Older Than 65
    • Your doctor may tell you that you don’t need to be screened anymore if—
      • Your test results have come back normal for several years, or
      • Your cervix was removed as part of a total hysterectomy for conditions not related to cancer, like fibroids.


Test Results
  • Your tests results may take up to 3 weeks to receive. If your test shows anything abnormal, your doctor will contact you and decide the best follow up. There are many reasons why test results may be abnormal. It usually does not mean you have cancer.
  • If your test results show cells that are abnormal and could potentially become cancer, your doctor will let you know the treatment plan. In most cases, treatment will prevent the development of cervical cancer. It is important to follow up with your doctor right away to learn more about your results and treatment options.
  • If your test results come back normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low. Your doctor may inform you that you can wait several years until your next test is needed. But you should not skip doctor appointments for your regular checkups.From https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/screening.htm

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Your preventative health and wellness is typically managed by a primary care physician. Choose your MagnaCare health plan; then search for Primary Care Physician in the Find a Provider menu.

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