5 cervical cancer myths

When it comes to cervical cancer, there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings. That includes a lot of confusion about what causes cervical cancer — the human papillomavirus, or HPV — as well as how the disease can be prevented and treated. We recently asked Kathleen Schmeler, M.D., co-leader of our HPV-Related Cancers Moon Shot™, to share some common myths she hears about cervical cancer prevention and treatment. Here are five cervical cancer myths Schmeler frequently hears. Myth #1: I need a Pap test every year. Truth: If your Pap test and HPV test are both normal, you don’t need to get a Pap test every year. MD Anderson recommends the following cervical cancer screening guidelines for women with previously normal Pap and HPV test results: Ages 21-29: Pap test every three years Ages 30-64: Pap test and HPV test every five years Ages 65 and older: Speak with your doctor about whether you need to continue Pap and HPV tests “Even if you don’t need a Pap test or HPV test, you should still get a well-woman checkup every year,” Schmeler says. “And even if you’ve received the HPV vaccines, you still need to be screened.” Myth #2: HPV isn’t that common/only affects people with multiple partners, so I don’t need to worry about the HPV vaccine or HPV test. Truth: HPV is very common. Approximately 80% of men and women are infected with HPV at some point in their lifetime. Myth #3: HPV infection clears up on its own. Truth: Most people clear the HPV infection without ever knowing they were exposed. However, in some people,...