1

The human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer.

The Correct Answer is True.

The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is being infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV). There are more than 150 types of HPV, and of those, about 15 are thought to be linked to a high risk of causing cervical cancer.

Infection with HPV is common. In most people the body can clear the infection by itself. But sometimes the infection doesn't go away and becomes chronic. Chronic infection with HPV, especially when it’s caused by certain high-risk types, can cause certain cancers over time, including cervical cancer.

 

2

Cervical cancer can often be prevented.

The Correct Answer is True.

Cervical cancers start from cells with pre-cancerous changes. The change from cervical pre-cancer to cervical cancer usually takes many years. A well-proven way to prevent cervical cancer is to get regular screening tests to find pre-cancers before they can turn into cancer. The Pap test and the human papilloma virus (HPV) test are used for this.

The Pap test can find pre-cancers and the HPV test can find the virus that puts a woman at higher risk. If a pre-cancer is found it can be treated. Treating all pre-cancers can prevent almost all true cancers. If HPV is found, re-testing may be done in 12 months to see if the virus has cleared or if more testing is needed.

Another way to help prevent cervical cancer, as well as some other cancers, is by getting an HPV vaccine. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and pre-cancer. Vaccines are available that can help prevent infection by certain types of HPV, including the types most strongly linked to cervical cancer. The vaccines only work to prevent HPV infection − they will not treat an infection that’s already there. So, to work best, the HPV vaccine should be given before a person is exposed to HPV (which most often happens through sexual contact).

3

Women need to get a Pap test every year to check for cervical cancer.

The Correct Answer is False.

For decades women have been told to get Pap tests once a year, but research has shown that this isn't needed. In fact, we now know that yearly Pap tests offer very little if any benefit compared to getting screened every 3 years.

And, there can be harm to screening more often. False positives (this is where the test shows cancer but this turns out to be wrong) are very common with cervical cancer screening, and more frequent screening can lead to the need for more follow up tests. These tests can have unwanted side effects, including problems related to future pregnancies and delivery, as well as increased anxiety and time away from work or home.

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women at average risk should begin cervical cancer testing (screening) at age 21.

Women aged 21 to 29 should get a Pap test every 3 years.

From age 30 to 65, the preferred way to screen is by getting a Pap test AND an HPV test every 5 years. Another option is to get tested every 3 years with only the Pap test.

Women over age 65 who have had regular screening for the past 10 years and haven’t had certain pre-cancers in the last 20 years should stop cervical cancer screening.

4

HPV infection can be treated to help prevent cervical cancer.

The Correct Answer is False.

There’s no treatment for HPV itself. But most genital HPV infections go away with the help of a person’s immune system within about 2 years.

Even though HPV can't be treated, the cell changes caused by an HPV infection can. For instance, pre-cancer cell changes caused by HPV can be found by Pap tests and treated to keep them from turning into cancer over time.

5

Cervical cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms right away.

The Correct Answer is True.

Early cervical cancers and pre-cancers hardly ever cause changes that a woman would notice. As the cancer grows and spreads into nearby tissues, it may cause abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding and/or pain during sex.

Regular screening tests and pelvic exams are important because many times there are no symptoms of this cancer.

6

Women who have had any type of hysterectomy can't get cervical cancer and don’t need to be tested for it.

The Correct Answer is False.

Women who have had a total hysterectomy (which includes taking out the uterus and cervix) no longer have a cervix and can stop screening (with Pap tests and HPV tests), unless the hysterectomy was done to treat cervical pre-cancer or cancer.

Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix (called a supra-cervical hysterectomy) should continue cervical cancer screening according to the recommended guidelines.

You answered out of 6 correctly.

We can help you learn the facts!

There’s more you need to know about cervical cancer and what you can do about it. Check out our Cervical Cancer section to learn more about this cancer and what you can do to find it early, help prevent it, and stay as healthy as possible. Visit our HPV (human papilloma virus) section to learn more about HPV, its link to cancer, and the HPV vaccines.

You answered out of 6 correctly.

Good job!

You’ve made a great start, but there are still some myths clouding your knowledge, and some facts you may not be aware of. Check the links in the answers you got wrong – they can take you right to the information you need. Check out our Cervical Cancer section, too, to learn more about this cancer, how you can be tested for it, and what you can do to help prevent it. To learn more about HPV, its link to cancer, and the HPV vaccines, visit our HPV (human papilloma virus) section.

You answered out of 6 correctly.

You have a strong understanding of cervical cancer!

Congratulations! There’s always more to learn, so go to our Cervical Cancer section to find out more about this cancer and what you can do to find it early, help prevent it, and stay as healthy as possible. Visit our HPV (human papilloma virus) section to learn more about HPV, its link to cancer, and the HPV vaccines.