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 papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 150 types of HPV, and of those, the high-risk types, including HPV 16 and HPV 18, are 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.

The two ways to help prevent cervical cancer are getting a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine if you are eligible and getting regular screening tests. 

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. The ACS recommends boys and girls get the HPV vaccine between the ages of 9 and 12. Teens and young adults ages 13 to 26 years who have not received the HPV vaccine or who have not received all of their shots should get the vaccine as soon as possible. Vaccination of young adults will not prevent as many cancers as vaccination of children and teens.

Getting regular screening tests with the HPV test or the Pap test can find pre-cancers before they can turn into cancer. Cervical cancers start from cells with pre-cancerous changes. The change from cervical pre-cancer to cervical cancer usually takes many years.  Treating pre-cancers can prevent almost all invasive cancers. 

The Pap test can find pre-cancer or cancer. The HPV test looks for the high-risk types of HPV that can cause cancer. The HPV test is better at finding cancer and pre-cancer than a Pap test alone and can help avoid unnessary tests than a co-test (an HPV test plus a Pap test). But the most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly, no matter which test you get. 

3

People with a cervix need to get a Pap test every year to check for cervical cancer.

The Correct Answer is False.

For decades people have been told to get a Pap test 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 individuals with a cervix at average risk should begin cervical cancer testing (screening) at age 25.

Those aged 25 to 65 should get a primary HPV test* every 5 years.

If a primary HPV test is not available in your area, screening may be done with either a co-test (that combines an HPV test with a Pap test) every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. (*A primary HPV test is an HPV test that is done by itself for screening. There are certain tests approved to be primary HPV tests.)

The most important thing to remember is to get screened regularly, no matter which test you get.

People over age 65 who have had regular screening for the past 10 years and haven’t had certain pre-cancers in the last 25 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 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

If you have had any type of hysterectomy, you 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 American Cancer Society 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 papillomavirus) section to learn more about HPV, its link to cancer, and the HPV vaccines that can prevent the high-risk infections.

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 that can prevent the high-risk infections., visit our HPV (human papillomavirus) 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 papillomavirus) section to learn more about HPV, its link to cancer, and the HPV vaccines that can prevent the high-risk infections.