Better Screenings Drop Cervical Cancer Rate

By CNN News Wire

Published 01/28 2014 07:23AM

Updated 01/28 2014 07:25AM

January  is cervical cancer awareness month.  Cervical cancer was at one time the most common cause of cancer death for American women. But after 1955 the death rate from cervical cancer went down. The main reason?  Better screening. 

Even though more than 12,000 American women were diagnosed with cervical cancer last year,  it is still the easiest female cancer to prevent, because of two main tests.

The first is the pap test or pap smear which detects pre-cancerous cells in the cervix.   It's the gold standard of cervical cancer prevention

The pap test is recommended for all women aged 21 to 65 years, although the cancer has a tendency to show up in mid-life.

The second is the hpv or human papillomavirus test-- which looks for the virus.  Almost 99.9% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV.

If you get an HPV test with pap, the cells collected during a pap smear, will be tested for hpv in a lab. 

Talk with your doctor whether an HPV test is needed.

In some cases, an HPV vaccine may be recommended.

But keep in mind, the pap test and the hpv test only screen for cervical cancer.  Neither test detects for ovarian, uterine or vaginal cancers.

(Holly Firfer for CNN's Health Minute)

Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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