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Cervical cancer can often be found early, and sometimes even prevented, by having regular screening tests. If detected early, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable cancers.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer often has no symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms may not appear until the cancer is advanced.

The most common symptom is bleeding from the vagina between periods, after sex, douching, a pelvic exam, and after menopause. Menstruation may also be heavy or last a long time, and there may be an unusual discharge from the vagina.

Later stages of cancer may cause:

Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is more common in certain places. This includes developing countries and the southern U.S. Women who are impoverished also have a higher risk of cervical cancer because they may lack access to screening and treatment.

Other things that raise the risk for cervical cancer are:

Reducing Your Risk

Some steps to reduce the risk of cervical cancer are:

Screening for Cervical Cancer

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are given to people without symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening tests to help detect cervical cancer include:

Screening guidelines vary among medical groups. Screening also depends on a person’s health. In general, for healthy women (without prior CIN 2 or higher) begin PAP tests at age 21 to 25 years. Women age 25 to 65 years old should have a Pap AND HPV test every five years. They may continue with Pap tests every three years, if desired. Women aged 65 years and older should stop having Pap and HPV tests if tests have been normal for the past 10 years.

Pap tests may be recommended more often for those with: