Increasing screening and prevention are key components of the effort to eradicate cervical cancer. Since almost all cases of the disease are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, vaccines that protect against the virus could prevent the vast majority of cases. Moreover, regular pap tests can catch and lead to treatment of the disease at the precancerous stage.

Mid-1940s, Dr. Georgios Nikolaou Papanikolaou’s ‘Pap smear’ cancer screening method was practiced and is now considered the most successful cancer screening test. With these positive steps forward, experts adjusted cervical cancer screening guidelines in 2012. Prior to this, cervical cancer was usually recommended annually for all women. The latest guidelines state:

  • Women under age 21 should not receive cervical cancer screening
  • Women aged 21 to 29 should receive a Pap test every three years
  • Women aged 30 to 65 should receive a Pap test AND HPV testing (co-testing) every five years, OR a Pap test alone every three years and HPV test alone every five years
  • Women over age 65 should not receive cervical cancer screening after adequate negative prior screening results


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three vaccines – Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix – that prevent infection with certain subtypes of HPV including 16 and 18, two high-risk HPVs that cause some 70 percent of cervical cancers.

Vaccines are most effective when taken before exposure to H.P.V; therefore, regular screening is the best way to prevent cervical cancer.


Who Should Get HPV Vaccine?

HPV vaccination is recommended at ages 11–12 years. HPV vaccines can be given starting at age 9 years. All preteens need HPV vaccination, so they are protected from HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life.

  • Teens and young adults through age 26 years who didn’t start or finish the HPV vaccine series also need HPV vaccination.

CDC recommends that 11- to 12-year-olds receive two doses of HPV vaccine 6 to 12 months apart.

Vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years.

  • Some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination for them.

HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit, because more people in this age range have already been exposed to HPV.


There are two steps you can take to lower your chances of getting HPV and diseases from HPV:

  • Get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It can protect men against warts and certain cancers caused by HPV. Ideally, you should get vaccinated before ever having sex.
  • Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting all STIs, including HPV. However, HPV can infect areas the condom does not cover. So, condoms may not offer full protection against getting HPV.

At any age, having a new sex partner is a risk factor for getting a new HPV infection. People who are already in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship are not likely to get a new HPV infection.


Most men who get HPV never have symptoms. The infection usually goes away by itself. But, if HPV does not go away, it can cause genital warts or certain kinds of cancer.

Talk to your healthcare provider about anything new or unusual on your penis, scrotum, anus, mouth, or throat. This includes:

  • Warts,
  • Unusual growths,
  • Lumps, or
  • Sores.


The American Cancer Society’s estimates for cervical cancer in the United States for 2022 are:

  • About 14,100 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed.
  • About 4,280 women will die from cervical cancer.
  • Hispanic women have the highest rates of developing cervical cancer, and Black women have the highest rates of dying from cervical cancer.
  • As a result of the Pap test, cervical cancer deaths have decreased by more than 70 percent in the United States.