All women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21. Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. Usually, they do not be tested for HPV unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have both a Pap test and an HPV test every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
Women who are at high risk for cervical cancer may need to be screened more often. They should talk with their doctor or nurse.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV), smoking and family history. Women at high risk might include those with HIV infection, organ transplant or exposure to the drug DES. For questions about risk factors, talk with your doctor.
Symptoms of cervical cancer may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after vaginal sex, bleeding after menopause, bleeding and spotting between periods, and having (menstrual) periods that are longer or heavier than usual. Bleeding after douching or after a pelvic exam may also occur. Other symptoms may include pain during sex or an unusual discharge from the vagina. The discharge may contain some blood and may occur between your periods or after menopause.