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Cervical cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer in women worldwide, with approximately 660,000 new cases and 350,000 deaths in 2022. Low- and middle-income countries have the highest incidence and deaths from cervical cancer. This indicates significant differences due to a lack of access to the national HPV vaccine, cervical screening, and treatment programs, as well as social and economic factors. Infection for a long time with the human papillomavirus (HPV) leads to cervical cancer. Women living with HIV are six times more likely to get cervical cancer than women without HIV.

The prophylactic HPV vaccine, as well as screening and treatment of precancerous lesions, are highly effective and affordable methods of preventing cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is curable if detected at an early stage and treated promptly. This blog post emphasizes the significance of early identification and routine screening for cervical cancer, including Pap screens and the HPV vaccination. Understanding Pap screenings and the HPV vaccine enables you to make informed health decisions and take action toward cervical cancer prevention.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer screening detects alterations in the cells of the cervix that may lead to cancer. Cervical cytology (commonly known as the Pap test or Pap smear) and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing are also options for screening. Most women should get cervical cancer screenings regularly.

HPV vaccines protect against the very common sexually transmitted virus known as HPV, or human papillomavirus. HPV infects at least half of all sexually active people at some point in their lives. The body often eliminates the virus on its own. However, if the virus continues to spread, it can cause cervical, anal, and throat cancers, as well as genital warts.

Pap Smears

When to Get Screened?

If You Are 21–29 Years Old:

You should start having Pap tests at the age of 21. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may recommend that you wait three years until your next Pap test.

If You Are 30-65 Years Old:

Consult your doctor about which testing option is best for you—

  1. Only an HPV test: This is known as primary HPV testing. If your results are normal, your doctor may recommend that you wait five years until your next screening test.
  2. HPV Test along with Pap Test: This is known as co-testing. If both of your results are normal, your doctor may advise you to wait five years for the next screening.
  3. A Pap test only: If your results are normal, your doctor may recommend that you wait three years until your next Pap test.

If you are older than 65, your doctor may suggest that you no longer need screening if:

  • You had at least three normal or negative Pap or HPV tests within the last decade.
  • No history of cervical precancer
  • Had your cervix removed during a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous disorders such as fibroids?

Test Results

It can take up to three weeks to get your test results. If your test results indicate that something is not normal, your doctor will call you and determine how to best follow up. There are several reasons why test results may be abnormal. It usually does not indicate that you have cancer.

If your test results show abnormal cells that may develop into cancer, your doctor will advise you on whether or not you require treatment. In most cases, therapy stops cervical cancer from developing. Follow up with your doctor immediately to find out more about your test findings and receive any necessary treatment.

If your test findings are normal, the possibility of developing cervical cancer in the following several years is quite low. Your doctor may advise you to wait a few years before your next cervical cancer screening. However, you need to see your doctor regularly for a checkup.

HPV Vaccine

HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is a very common sexually transmitted infection. There are over 200 strains of HPV, and some can cause cervical cancer in women and other cancers in both men and women. While most HPV infections go away on their own, certain strains can linger and lead to abnormal cell growth, which over time can develop into cancer.

Vaccines protect against the specific HPV strains that pose the greatest risk for cancer. The most common vaccines available cover either two (HPV 16 and 18) or nine strains. These targeted strains are responsible for roughly 90% of cervical cancers.The CDC recommends HPV vaccination for all children at age 11 or 12. Vaccination can begin as early as 9 years old. Ideally, children receive the vaccine before they become sexually active. However, the vaccine can still offer benefits up to age 26 for those not previously vaccinated.

There are many misconceptions surrounding the HPV vaccine. Here are some key points to remember:

  • The vaccine is not just for girls. It is recommended for both boys and girls to protect against various HPV-related cancers.
  • The vaccine works even if you've already been exposed to HPV. While it won't eliminate existing infections, the vaccine can protect against future strains.
  • The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent cancer. 

Cervical cancer is preventable, and the key is an approach that includes the HPV vaccine and regular Pap smears. While these methods perform different roles, they work together to offer the best possible protection.
The HPV Vaccine prevents infection with the most high-risk HPV strains. However, it does not protect all strains, and some people may get vaccinated after previously being exposed to a non-targeted strain.

The Pap Smear is a screening test that detects precancerous cell abnormalities on the cervix caused by HPV infection. Early detection allows action before cancer develops.

Working Together For Optimal Protection

Consider the HPV vaccine a shield that keeps the majority of harmful attackers (HPV strains) out of your body. Pap smears serve as a dedicated guard, continuously scanning for defense breaches and spotting possible threats (precancerous cells) before they become a major problem.

  • Not all HPV Strains are Covered: The HPV vaccine protects against the most prevalent cancer-causing strains, but not all. Pap smears can detect abnormalities caused by non-covered strains.
  • Breakthrough Infections: In rare situations, even after vaccinations, someone may get infected with a high-risk strain not covered by the vaccine. Pap smears can detect breakthrough infections early.
  • Tracking Existing Infections: The Pap smear can detect existing HPV infections, even if they do not cause acute symptoms.
  • Combining the preventive efficacy of the HPV vaccine with the early detection ability of a Pap smear results in an effective defense against cervical cancer.


Cervical cancer is preventable, but one must be vigilant. The HPV vaccine provides effective protection against the most common cancer-causing strains, and the Pap smear serves as a vigilant guardian, detecting and addressing any potential dangers early on. They are not substitutes but rather partners in maintaining cervical health. Consult your doctor about HPV vaccination and set up a regular Pap smear routine. Taking a cautious approach in these ways will significantly minimize your risk of cervical cancer.

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