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Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with regular PAP and HPV (human papilloma virus) tests and screening. The PAP test is performed by a doctor or nurse who takes a small sample of cells from the cervix and the cells are examined in a laboratory to detect any abnormalities. If abnormal cells are precancerous they can be treated before they become cancerous. 

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women receive PAP tests beginning at age 21 and to continue testing every three years. At age 30 it is recommended that screening be done every five years with a test to determine if HPV is present. Seventy percent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV which is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer. 

NH CCC works collaboratively with partners, including the NH Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, which provides free screenings to eligible women. More information is available at http://www.getscreenednh.com/ .

Many partners are engaged in the promotion of the HPV vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of HPV vaccines between the ages of 11-12 for boys and girls to protect against cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in females, anal and throat cancer in males and females, and penile cancer in males. The vaccine also prevents infection with the HPV types that cause genital warts in both females and males. The vaccine is given between ages 11-12 because a stronger immune response was found at this age of vaccination. 

The NH CCC and its partners work to implement strategies that address cervical cancer which include promotion of cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination. The HPV Working Group is currently funded by NH CCC to implement a project to engage with dental providers and other healthcare providers to increase HPV vaccination rates among youth. For additional information on HPV vaccination, see NH CCC’s recently updated HPV Vaccine Emerging Issues Brief.