Doctor discussing exam with a female patient

Cervical cancer screenings

By getting regular Pap tests, cervical cancer can be found early and sometimes prevented entirely. If detected early, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers.

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Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and follow-up. Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early are:

  • Pap test (or Pap smear): looks for any cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately
  • HPV test: looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes

TRICARE covers the following to screen for cervical cancer:

  • Physical examination (Pelvic examination should be performed in conjunction with Pap smear testing)
  • Pap smear testing for women 21 years of age or older
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing when performed in conjunction with a Pap smear and only for women 30 and older

What are the signs and symptoms?

In the early stages of cervical cancer, there may not be any symptoms at all. In some cases, the symptoms may be irregular or heavy pain or bleeding.

Are you at risk?

The following conditions can be risk factors for cervical cancer:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Smoking
  • A weakened immune system
  • Chlamydia infection
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Being overweight

Should you get a screening?

If you are:

  • Age 21-29: You should have a pap smear every three years
  • Age 30-65: Pap test combined with an HPV test every five years