Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening

Young woman listening to doctorThe Basics: Overview

Getting regular screenings for cervical cancer can help find abnormal (changed) cervical cells before they turn into cervical cancer. There are 2 kinds of screening tests that can find abnormal cervical cells:

  1. Pap tests, also called Pap smears
  2. HPV (human papillomavirus) tests

Most deaths from cervical cancer can be prevented if women get regular cervical screenings and follow-up care.

How often should I get screened (tested)?

Screening for cervical cancer depends on how old you are and which screening tests you get.

If you are age 21 to 29: Get screened with a Pap test every 3 years.

If you are age 30 to 65:
Get screened every 3 years if you have a Pap test only.
Get screened every 5 years if you have both a Pap test and an HPV test.

Some people may need to get screened more often. For example, your doctor may recommend that you get screened more often if you’ve had abnormal test results in the past.

If you are age 66 or older, ask your doctor if you need to continue regular cervical cancer screening.