Maine CDC Press Release

January 31, 2018

Routine Pap Tests Can Prevent Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

AUGUSTA - The nation recognizes January as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages women to speak to their healthcare provider about getting a Pap test. A combination of regular screening and the HPV vaccine could prevent 93 percent of all cervical cancer, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Statistics show that 60 percent of cervical cancer cases occur in women who have gone 5 or more years without having had a Pap test or who have never had a Pap test. I urge women to speak to their healthcare provider to see if they are due for their screening," said Dr. Bruce Bates, Maine CDC Director.

Prior to the development of the Pap test, cervical cancer was one of the leading causes of cancer death among women in the United States. Now, cervical cancer is preventable through cost-effective screening tests that can detect cervical cell changes before they become cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with most cervical cancers and the risk of the virus becoming cancerous increases with age.

The U.S Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women beginning at age 21 receive regular Pap tests, and beginning at age 30 receive both a Pap test and high-risk HPV DNA test. Women should talk with their doctor as screening recommendations can vary based on age, family history and other risk factors. It is also important to remember that HPV can cause serious health problems in both females and males—including cancer. It is important for parents to talk with their health care providers about administering the HPV vaccine to their adolescent sons and daughters.

The Maine CDC's Breast and Cervical Health Program is available to provide information about screening tests, as well as resources for free cancer screening services and diagnostic follow-up testing for women who meet program guidelines.

For information about the program or cervical cancer, call 1-800-350-5180 (toll-free) or 1-207-287-8068 [TTY users can call Maine Relay 711] or visit: