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A Pap test can alert women to changes in the cervix that could lead to cancer.

The only way to find cervical cancer is to have a Pap test performed by your health care provider. During a Pap test, a portion of cells are brushed from the cervix onto a slide so that they can be examined under a microscope.

Doctor discussing a Pap test for cervical cancer screening


Who should be screened and how often?

According to recommended screening guidelines

  • Women 21 years of age and older should have a pelvic exam annually.
  • Women 21 to 29 years of age should have a Pap test every three years.
  • Women 30 to 65 years of age should have a Pap test every three years, or every five years with HPV co-testing.
  • Women who have been vaccinated for HPV should continue to follow the guidelines for their age group.

Women who do not need to be screened:

  • Have had their uterus and cervix removed.
  • Have no history of cervical cancer or precancer.


What causes cervical cancer?

Women at a higher risk:

  • Have an infection from HPV (two-thirds of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV 16 and 18)
  • Are obese or overweight
  • Smoke (cigarette smoking doubles the risk)
  • Eat a diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Have an HIV or a chlamydia infection
  • Have had an organ transplant
  • Have been exposed to the drug known as DES — a synthetic form of estrogen
  • Have used oral contraceptives long-term (five or more years)
  • Have had three or more full-term pregnancies (having a full-term pregnancy before the age of 17 doubles the risk compared with a woman whose first pregnancy was at age 25 or later)

Nurse Navigators

Delaware nurse navigators can help you get screened for cancer.

Whether you have insurance or not, Delaware nurse navigators can help you get screened for cancer and provide follow-up help when you get your results. Choose from the list below to call a nurse navigator directly, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or click the call request button to have a nurse navigator contact you.

A Nurse Navigator on the phone supporting a patient
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