Coalition: Annual Pap test still necessary

Doctor holding tablet PC talking to patientEven if women have received a vaccine against cervical cancer, experts say they still need an annual Pap test.

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) says there is confusion about whether a Pap test is needed after being vaccinated against cervical cancer.

The HPV/cervical cancer vaccine protects against only 70 percent to 80 percent of cervical cancer cases, and a Pap test remains the most effective screening against the disease.

According to the NCCC, Pap tests have lowered cervical cancer rates in the US by 70 percent since the 1940’s.

Every year, 12,000 woman are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,000 women die from the disease.

Cervical cancer is preventable

The HPV vaccine guards against strains of the human papilloma virus, which affects about 20 million people in the US and causes more than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls 11 and 12 years old or before sexual activity, but it’s also advised for women up to 26 years old.

Pap tests usually begin at age 21.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. For more information aon how to prevent cervical cancer, ask your doctor, or go to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition website.