Screening can catch cervical cancer early

Jan 11 8:00am | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara | Comments (2)


HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer. And during January, Cervical Health Awareness Month, women are encouraged to receive the HPV vaccine. They also are encouraged to schedule a screening that can find precancerous conditions of the cervix.

HPV infection and early cervical cancer don't cause noticeable symptoms, so regular screenings can detect changes in the cervix that might lead to cancer.

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Kristina Butler, a gynecologic oncologist and co-chair of the Gynecologic Disease Group at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, talks about good cervical health and the importance of the HPV vaccine for protection.

To practice safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, this interview was conducted using video conferencing. The sound and video quality are representative of the technology used. For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

For more information, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and

Connect with others talking about cervical cancer and women's health, and supporting one another in the Gynecologic Cancers support group Women's Health support group.


When I was 72 years old, and at my last Pap test, I was told by the doc that the exams are only to detect HPV, and that I didn't need to be getting screened anymore. I had never heard that and have been getting screenings for probably 45 years thinking it was for cervical cancer. What is your take on this information? I lost one of my dearest friends to cervical cancer and she was 67.


@baz10, it's common that women 65 and older may be told they no longer need regular Pap and HPV tests if their tests have been regular for years or if they've had a total hysterectomy. The Pap test looks for precancers. They look for cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer. The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes. Both tests can be conducted on the sample or smear that is taken at the doctor's office.

This article from the CDC explains things well.
– What Should I Know About Cervical Cancer Screening?

If you've not had abnormal results in the recent years, it's reasonable for your doctor to recommend that you no longer need a Pap test. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend.

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