How often should one be screened for cervical cancer?

Dr. Michael Guy explains how often one should be screened for cervical cancer. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


Cervical cancer screenings vary, according to the American College of Obstetricians and GynecologistsOff Site Icon (ACOG). The type of test, when women should have them, and how often she should have them depends on her age and health history, states the ACOG.

The American Cancer SocietyOff Site Icon (ACS) reports that women should use the following guidelines for cervical cancer screening:

  • Cervical cancer testing should start at age 21
  • Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test done every 3 years. HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless it’s needed after an abnormal Pap test result
  • Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test done every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it’s OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years
  • Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing in the past 10 years with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer
  • Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if testing goes past age 65
  • A woman who has had her uterus and cervix removed (a total hysterectomy) for reasons not related to cervical cancer and who has no history of cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer should not be tested
  • All women who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for their age groups

For more information about cervical cancer screenings, talk with your doctor.

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Michael S. Guy, MD

Michael S. Guy, MD

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