Women's Health Cervical Cancer Screenings: Should You Get a Pap Smear? By UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, January 28, 2015 The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 12,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer were diagnosed in 2018. Fortunately, according to the American Cancer Society, the increased number of Pap smears performed have played a major role in lowering the cervical cancer death rate by more than 50 percent. Throughout the years, there has been confusion and differing guidelines about when and how often women should start receiving Pap smears. According to the most recent guidelines, women should start to receive Pap smears every three years beginning at age 21, regardless of sexual activity. These guidelines are approved by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, and the American Cancer Society. So, how will a Pap smear help? Should you ask for one at your next appointment? Check out the infographic below to learn more about cervical cancer, risks for the disease, and Pap smear guidelines. Scheduled screenings are critical. Find out more about gynecologic cancer screenings at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Cervical Cancer Facts 4,010 women will die from cervical cancer in 2017 The cervical cancer death rate has decreased by 50 percent over the last three decades There are typically no early signs of this disease A Pap smear is the primary way of detecting cervical cancer RELATED: Are Cervical and Ovarian Cancer Treatable? Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer Smoking Engaging in sexual intercourse before age 18 Infection with or exposure to HPV Irregular or suspicious Pap smears Having many sexual partners Taking oral contraceptive use for more than five years Having a weakened immune system (because of diseases like HIV) Should I Get a Pap Smear? You should get a Pap smear if you are 21 to 65 years old and if it has been more than three years since your last Pap smear You should not get a Pap smear is you are younger than 21 or older than 65, if you’ve had a hysterectomy, or you’ve had a recent Pap smear that was normal RELATED: Ladies: Skip the Yearly Pap Smear – Not Your Annual Exam! Find More Information About Cervical Cancer and Screenings If you have questions or concerns about Pap smears and what is best for you, you should always consult with your doctor.