Abnormal Pap Test (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
You cannot prevent an abnormal Pap test, but you can reduce your risk factors.
Have regular Pap test screening
The Pap test is the most effective screening test to prevent the development of cervical cancer. Pap tests done at regular intervals almost always detect cervical cell changes before the changes become cancerous. Regular screening for and treatment of cervical cell abnormalities can prevent the abnormal cell changes from developing into cancer.
The recommended Pap test schedule is based on your age and on things that increase your risk. For most women, it is best to have a Pap test every 1 to 3 years. Talk to your doctor about when to have your first Pap test and how often to have this test.
Women who smoke are at higher risk for developing cervical cell changes that cause an abnormal Pap test. The reason for this is not fully understood. Quitting smoking may decrease this risk. Not smoking has many other health benefits. For example, nonsmokers have a lower risk of other cancers and heart disease. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Reduce your risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially HPV infection, often cause abnormal Pap tests and can lead to other serious health problems. Preventing an STI is easier than treating an infection after it occurs.
Your risk for an STI increases if you have several sex partners at the same time or if your sex partner has more than one partner.
The vaccines Cervarix(What is a PDF document?) and Gardasil(What is a PDF document?) protect against two types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against two types of HPV that cause genital warts. Three shots are given over 6 months. It is recommended for children age 11 or 12 but can be given as early as age 9. For girls who have not already gotten the vaccine, it is recommended up to age 26. For boys who have not already gotten the shot, the vaccine is recommended up to age 21. Gardasil is used for males. Females can get either vaccine. For more information, see the topic Immunizations.
For more information on getting your child vaccinated, see:
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