Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines


Detecting changes in cells in the cervix as early as possible can prevent cancer or make it easier to treat. Tests including a Pap test and a human papillomavirus (HPV) test are used to look for these changes. (A Pap test is also called a Pap smear, cervical cytology testing, or liquid-based cytology.)

Screening and Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
MSK experts describe how abnormal cells in the cervix can be found and treated before they turn into cancer.

The doctors at MSK agree with the screening recommendations of major organizations focusing on gynecological health, including the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology and the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Age Group Recommendation
Women younger than 21 No routine Pap test screening
Women age 21 to 29 Pap tests every three years
Women age 30 to 65 Pap test alone every three years or an HPV test along with a Pap test every five years
Women over 65 No screening necessary if previous screening guidelines have been followed and the woman is not at a high risk for cervical cancer

Special Considerations for More Frequent Screening

Some women should be screened more often. These include women who have a weakened or compromised immune system, who have had precancerous lesions, or whose mothers used the drug diethylstilbestrol while they were pregnant. Talk with your doctor to learn if these circumstances may apply to you.