Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is common in women. It is one of the easiest cancers to find and treat in its early stages.

Before a woman gets cervical cancer, the cells in her cervix begin to change. A woman cannot see or feel these changes. Only a Pap test can show these changes in the cells of the cervix.

What can increase my risk of getting cerivcal cancer?

  • Having sex early (Before age 20).
  • Having more than one sexual partner.
  • Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
  • Having sex with someone who has an STD.
  • Smoking.

What is a Pap test and why do I need one?

A Pap test will find unhealthy cells on or in the cervix. Having a routine Pap test can find cancer early.

You should contact your health provider if you have:

  • Spots of blood after sex.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Having a colored or bad smelling discharge or leakage from the vagina.
  • Feeling pain in the pelvis or bleeding from the rectum.

What can decrease my risk of getting cervical cancer?

  • Regular pelvic exams and Pap tests.
  • Using a latex condom and spermicides during sex to protect from STDs.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners.
  • Do not smoke.

Preparation for the Pap test.

  • Schedule the test for two weeks after your period.
  • Do not douche or use tampons, vaginal creams, foams or lubricants for 1 to 2 days before the test. These items can wash away or hide abnormal cells. Douching should never be done anyway, unless prescribed by your physician as a treatment.
  • Do not have sex for 1-2 days before the test.

When do I need to have a Pap test?

A woman should have her first pelvic examination and Pap test by age 21, or when she begins to have sex, whichever comes first. A pelvic exam should be done annually and a Pap test should be done every three years.