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Understanding Cervical Changes: A Health Guide for Women

Most women who have abnormal cervical screening tests do not have cervical cancer. Most have early cell changes that can be monitored, since they often go away on their own – or treated early, to prevent problems later. So, get the follow-up visits, tests, or treatment that your health care provider advises.

Cervical Cancer Screening Test Results, Follow-up, and Treatment

If your Pap or HPV test found cervical cell changes, this site helps you learn about:

  • Pap, HPV, cotesting results ( including ASC-US, ASC-H, AGC, LSIL, HSIL, AIS, and cervical cancer)
  • Follow-up testing
  • Treatments

Preventing Cervical Cancer

You can also learn about when to get screened for cervical cancer, what to expect during a Pap test or an HPV test, HPV infection, and when to get the HPV vaccine.

Five things to know about preventing cervical cancer:

  1. We know what causes cervical cancer. A virus called HPV (human papillomavirus) causes nearly all cervical cancer – as well as these other cancers.
  2. Abnormal cervical screening test results don't mean that you have cervical cancer. An abnormal Pap test result or HPV or cotest result does not mean that you have cervical cancer. It means that cervical cell changes were found or that cells are infected with HPV. Depending on the results, you may need these follow-up tests or treatments. Treatment for cervical changes works well.
  3. Cervical cell changes happen slowly. It can take many years for cells infected with HPV to develop into cervical cancer.
  4. Better screening tests mean less frequent screening. Because of improvements in cervical cancer screening, guidelines now recommend less frequent screening.
  5. We have great tools to prevent cervical cancer. Regular screening can prevent cervical cancer. So can early HPV vaccination, for young people.

You can also access this information as an e-book or PDF. Use this information to help you talk with your doctor after an abnormal cervical cancer screening result. If you have additional questions about cervical cancer screening, you may contact the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

  • Posted: April 30, 2014