Current vaccination and screening recommendations
Use HPV Vaccination
Vaccinate both girls and boys ages 11 to 12 against HPV
- Girls and boys have the best protection when they receive all doses as recommended before they are exposed to HPV.
- Girls ages 13-26 and boys ages 13-21 should get the vaccine if they have not received it already.
When I was 25, I was living in Washington, DC, working as a television producer and loving life. I felt great and healthy, so I put off getting my routine Pap test for a few years. I thought it could wait.
When I finally did go for a check-up, I got the shock of my life. I had cervical cancer. I was devastated, and I asked myself how this was possible. I was too young and too strong for this.
My doctor recommended a radical hysterectomy, which meant I would not be able to have kids, something I had always hoped for. I searched for second opinions to understand my options. But in the end, I had the hysterectomy. I also had chemotherapy and radiation.
I was depressed, but with the support of my family and friends, I finished treatment.
Now I’m cancer-free and enjoying life! I learned just how important it is to have a Pap test regularly. If I hadn’t had that Pap test that led to my cancer diagnosis, I might not be here today. I’m living proof that screening can find cervical cancer at an early stage, when treatment works best.
The Pap test actually helps prevent cervical cancer. It can find precancerous changes on the cervix that can be treated before they turn into cancer. I’m a big believer in telling women about the benefits of the Pap test. In fact, in 2005, I founded Tamika & Friends, a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to raising awareness about cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV).
I hope other women learn from my experience and make sure to have their Pap tests as recommended.
Jacquelyn, a mother of two and cervical cancer survivor, shares her story. After her son was born, she found out she had cancer and needed a total hysterectomy.
“Every time the doctor calls, I hold my breath until I get the results. Cancer is always in the back of my mind,” Jacquelyn says. “I will protect my son and daughter by getting both of them the HPV vaccine series as soon as they turn 11. I tell everyone I know to get their children the HPV vaccine series to protect them from cancer.”
Screen Women for Cervical Cancer
Use Pap tests every 3 years for women ages 21-29
- Doctors or nurses collect cells for the Pap test during an exam.
- The Pap test can find abnormal cells that may develop into cancer, if left untreated.
Choose 1 of 2 options for women ages 30-65
Doctor and patient decide together which screening approach is preferred:
- Pap test every 3 years, or;
- Pap test plus HPV test every 5 years. The HPV test can find the HPV virus by testing cells collected at the same time as a Pap test.
Women should get screened as recommended. More frequent screening does not provide more protection.
- Some women may need a different screening schedule because of their health history.
- Women over age 65 should ask their doctor if they need to continue screening.
- Women should talk with their doctors and nurses to understand their screening results.
- Women who had the HPV vaccine should still start getting screened when they reach age 21.