January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month. With nearly 13,000 women in the United States diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, we can help offer appropriate vaccinations and screenings as health care providers.
Here are the current 2012 guidelines from the American Cancer Society, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society of Clinical Pathologists in a nutshell to help determine what type of testing should be performed and when.
Current Cervical Cancer Guidelines:
- Cervical cancer screening should not begin until age 21
- Women <21 years of age should not be screened regardless of age of sexual debut
- Screening for ages 21-29
- Cytology alone every 3 years
- HPV should not be used as a “screening” tool
- Screening for ages 30-64
- Cytology + HPV testing (co-testing) every 5 years is preferred
- Cytology alone every 3 years is acceptable
- When to stop screening
- Stop at age 65 for women with adequate negative prior screening, no CIN2+ within last 20 years
- Stop after hysterectomy with removal of cervix and no prior history of CIN2+
- Screening recommendations should not change based on HPV vaccination status
HPV Vaccination Age Limit
Speaking about vaccinations – did you know that the HPV vaccination age limit has changed? Yes, that is right! The 2014 Gardasil 9 valent vaccine is approved for 2 doses at 0 and 6 months for females and males ages 9-14; and now approved for 3 doses at 0, 2, and 6 months for females and males ages 15-45. The Gardasil 9 valent vaccine is effective against HPV types 3, 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 45, 52, 58. So, now its your turn to help guide and counsel your patients about receiving a vaccine that can protect them against cancer! Even if your patient has already tested positive for HPV, they can still receive the vaccine as it may help protect them against specific HPV types they have not been exposed to. Talk to your patients today about getting the HPV vaccine!