Cervical Cancer: an overview of the NCI fact sheet on Pap and HPV testing

Pap and HPV Testing fact sheet, National Cancer Institute

Pap-and-HPV-Testing image
Screening for cervical cancer is in the news. Below is an overview of @theNCI fact sheet on Pap and HPV testing.

Key Points

  • Cervical cancer screening, which includes the Pap test and HPV testing, is an essential part of a woman’s routine health care because it can detect cancer or abnormalities that may lead to cancer of the cervix.
  • Current guidelines recommend that women should have a Pap test every 3 years beginning at age 21. These guidelines further recommend that women ages 30 to 65 should have HPV and Pap cotesting every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. Women with certain risk factors may need to have more frequent screening or to continue screening beyond age 65.
  • Women who have received the HPV vaccine still need regular cervical screening.


  • What causes cervical cancer?
  • What is cervical cancer screening?
  • How is cervical cancer screening done?
  • When should a woman begin cervical cancer screening, and how often should she be screened?
  • What are the benefits of Pap and HPV cotesting?
  • Can HPV testing be used alone for cervical cancer screening?
  • How are the results of cervical cancer screening tests reported?
  • What follow-up tests are done if cervical cancer screening results are abnormal?
  • How are cervical abnormalities treated?
  • Do women who have been vaccinated against HPV still need to be screened for cervical cancer?
  • What are the limitations of cervical cancer screening?

Read Pap and HPV Testing fact sheet, National Cancer Institute.

More information
  • Cervical Cancer Risk for 330,000 Women Undergoing Concurrent HPV Testing and Cervical Cytology in Routine Clinical Practice at a Large Managed Care Organization, PMC3272857, Feb 6, 2012.
  • Screening for cervical cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement, annals 1183214, 19 June 2012 .
  • American Cancer Society, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society for Clinical Pathology screening guidelines for the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer, PMC3801360, Mar 14, 2012.
  • Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer, PubMed 17826171, 2007 Sep 8.
  • Human papillomavirus testing in the prevention of cervical cancer, PMC3046952, Mar 2, 2011.
  • Natural history of human papillomavirus infections, cytologic and histologic abnormalities, and cancer, PubMed 19061814, 2008 Dec.
  • Reassurance Against Future Risk of Precancer and Cancer Conferred by a Negative Human Papillomavirus Test, JNCI 106/8/dju153, May 2, 2014.

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