blue bulletin from bcidaho

Cervical cancer: What you need to know

How you can help lower your risk of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cervical cancer starts in the cervix and is usually caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Between the HPV vaccine, screenings and other lifestyle choices, you can help reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

cervical cancerGet screened

There are two ways you can be screened for cervical cancer:

  • HPV test
  • Pap test

A Pap test checks cervical cells to see if they look normal. An HPV test checks cervical cells for signs of HPV infection. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends women between the ages of 21 and 29 get a Pap test every three years. For women between the ages of 30 and 65, USPSTF recommends a Pap test every three years and HPV testing every five years. If you have a Pap test and HPV test at the same time, USPSTF recommends you get tested for both every five years.

Blue Cross of Idaho covers Pap tests and HPV tests at little or no cost to you as part of your preventive care benefits.

Get vaccinated

Getting the HPV vaccine is also a safe and effective way to prevent HPV infection, which can cause cervical cancer. The CDC recommends HPV vaccination for everyone ages 11 or 12 through 26. Since HPV vaccines were first introduced in the U.S. in 2006, the CDC states that infections with HPV that cause most cervical cancers among young women have dropped 81%. That's why the CDC recommends both young men and young women should get the HPV vaccine to help further protect against HPV-related cancers.

Blue Cross of Idaho covers HPV vaccines at little or no cost to you as part of your preventive care benefits.

Other preventive steps

In addition to regular HPV and cervical cancer screening, as well as getting the HPV vaccine, the CDC recommends women take these steps:

  • Get regular cervical cancer screenings, even after getting the HPV vaccine.
  • Practice safe sex and routinely get screened for any sexually transmitted infections.
  • Avoid smoking.

Review your preventive care benefits

Blue Cross of Idaho covers many preventive care services at little or no cost to you. Review your plan documents to find a full list of the preventive care benefits available to you under your plan.

Posted: January 11, 2023