January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

On average, 30 women in Montana are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.

Although this number is relatively low, all women, 21 and older, should still get a regular Pap test. This screening can detect cervical cancer in its early stages, making it more treatable in the long run.


How often should I be screened?

If you are a woman aged 21 to 65, and are of average risk (no previous abnormal Pap test, have a cervix, have no exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES), and are not immunocompromised) you should have a Pap test every thee years, according to the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF). Women aged 30 to 65 and of average risk can be screened with a combination of the Pap test and HPV test every 5 years. Talk to your doctor to find out which screening schedule is right for you!


Are you at risk?

Certain factors can raise your chance of cervical cancer, including:

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): Exposure to HPV is one of the most important risk factors, as it is known that certain strains may cause cervical cancer.

Smoking: those who smoke are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer.

Family History: Women with immediate family members (mother, sister) who have had cervical cancer are at higher risk.

Diet: A diet low in fruits and vegetables puts a woman at increased risk for cervical cancer.


What can I do?

• Get screened

• Don’t use tobacco

• Know your body


For more information on cancer and support resources, please visit our Disease and Conditions page and click on Cancer Screening. If you are looking for support resources, please click on Cancer Support and Resources.