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Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical Cancer Screening

LifeBridge Health offers preventive screening options to enhance women’s health. Cervical cancer screening is used to detect changes in the cells of the cervix that may lead to cancer. Women with low-grade changes can test more frequently to see if their cells go back to normal and women with high-grade changes can get treatment to have the cells removed. Cervical cancer screening includes the Pap test and, for some women, an HPV test.

What to Expect

The screening process is simple and fast. You lie on an exam table and a speculum is used to open the vagina. Cells are removed from the cervix with a brush or other sampling instrument, put into a special liquid and sent to a laboratory for testing.

Who Needs Cervical Cancer Screenings?

Your medical provider may recommend a cervical cancer screening for:

  • Women aged 21–29 years with a Pap test alone every three years. HPV testing is not recommended
  • Women aged 30–65 years with a Pap test and an HPV test (co-testing) every five years. It also is acceptable to have a Pap test alone every three years
  • You can stop having cervical cancer screening after age 65 years if:
  • You do not have a history of moderate or severe abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer, and
  • You have had either three negative Pap test results in a row or two negative co-test results in a row within the past 10 years, with the most recent test performed within the past five years


Women who have a history of cervical cancer, are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), have a weakened immune system, or who were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth may require more frequent screening and should not follow these routine guidelines.


Women who have been vaccinated against HPV still need to follow the screening recommendations for their age group.

Getting Abnormal Results

Many women have abnormal cervical cancer screening results. An abnormal result does not mean that you have cancer. Cervical cell changes often go back to normal on their own and if they do not, it often takes several years for even high-grade changes to become cancer.


If you have an abnormal result, additional testing is needed to find out whether high-grade changes or cancer are present. Sometimes, only repeat testing is needed. In other cases, colposcopy and cervical biopsy may be recommended. If results of follow-up tests indicate high-grade changes, you may need treatment to remove the abnormal cells. You will need follow-up testing after treatment and will need to get regular cervical cancer screening after the follow-up is complete.