Cervical Cancer Screening: Resource Overview

Cervical cancer screening dramatically reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer. Get the latest guidelines for health care professionals and patient information for women about cervical cytology testing (Pap test or Pap smear), HPV testing, abnormal cervical cancer screening test results, cervical screening in developing countries, and cervical cancer screening for HIV patients. Ob-gyns, physicians whose primary responsibility is women’s health, play a leading role in cervical cancer screening.

Here are the key publications and resources for ob-gyns, other women’s health care providers, and patients from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other sources.

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Resources for Ob-Gyns and Women’s Health Care Providers
Resources for Women and Patients

Resources for Ob-Gyns and Women’s Health Care Providers

Practice Bulletin: Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention (members only)

“Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention,” issued by ACOG in October 2016, provides a review of the best available evidence for cervical cancer screening. This evidence-based guideline covers cervical cytology (Pap test) screening techniques and test reporting, and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and testing.

Committee Opinion: Well-Woman Visit

"Well-Woman Visit," published by ACOG in October 2018, explains the importance of the annual well-woman exam, including screening, evaluation and counseling, and immunizations based on age and risk factors.

Practice Bulletin: Management of Abnormal Cervical Cancer Screening Test Results and Cervical Cancer Precursors (members only)

“Management of Abnormal Cervical Cancer Screening Test Results and Cervical Cancer Precursors,” issued by ACOG in December 2013 (reaffirmed 2016), is an evidence-based guideline that defines when to return to routine screening after treatment or resolution of abnormalities, updates the incorporation of HPV testing, and integrates new data on the risk of high-grade precursor lesions and cancer.

Statement of Policy: Cervical Cancer Prevention in Low-Resource Settings (members only)

“Cervical Cancer Prevention in Low-Resource Settings,” issued by ACOG in March 2004 (reaffirmed 2011), addresses the need for more cost-effective ways to prevent cervical cancer in low-resource settings, especially developing countries. It affirms that there is growing evidence that a single-visit approach, incorporating visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid wash (VIA), followed by an immediate offer of treatment with cryotherapy for eligible lesions, is safe, acceptable, and cost-effective. 

Practice Bulletin: Gynecologic Care for Women and Adolescents with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (Members Only)

“Gynecologic Care for Women and Adolescents with Human Immunodeficiency Virus,” issued by ACOG  in October 2016 notes that women infected with HIV are at increased risk for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cervical neoplasms. However, among HIV-positive women who receive regular screening and recommended follow-up, the incidence of cervical cancer is no higher than in HIV-negative women, notes the evidence-based guideline.

Committee Opinion: Hereditary Cancer Syndromes and Risk Assessment 

“Hereditary Cancer Syndromes and Risk Assessment,” issued by ACOG in June 2015, emphasizes risk assessment by an ob-gyn as key to identifying patients who may be at increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. It also notes that referral to a specialist in cancer genetics is recommended if risk assessment suggests an increased risk of a hereditary cancer syndrome.

Committee Opinion: Cervical Cancer Screening in Low-Resource Settings 

“Cervical Cancer Screening in Low-Resource Settings,” issued by ACOG in February 2015, identifies alternative cervical cancer screening strategies, such as HPV testing or visual inspection with acetic acid, that may be implemented in low-resource settings where cytology-based screening is not feasible. 

Resources for Women and Patients

Cervical Cancer Screening Infographic

ACOG’s  Cervical Cancer Screening Infographic, issued in February 2016, explains when women should be screened for cervical cancer and whether they should receive a Pap test or co-testing with the HPV test.

Patient Fact Sheet: “New Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening”

“New Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening,” issued by ACOG in September 2013, provides women with the latest recommendations for Pap and HPV testing.

Patient FAQ: Colposcopy

“Colposcopy,” issued by ACOG in April 2015, explains that colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope, which shines a light into the vagina and onto the cervix. Colposcopy is done when results of cervical cancer screening show abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. Sometimes, a biopsy is performed at the same time. 

Patient FAQ: Cervical Cancer Screening

“Cervical Cancer Screening,” issued by ACOG in February 2016, explains that cervical cancer screening, used to find changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cancer, includes the Pap test (Pap smear) and, for some women, HPV testing.

Patient FAQ: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection

“Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection,” issued by ACOG in November 2015, covers the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in genital warts and cervical cancer. It explains cervical cancer prevention with the HPV vaccine, as well as cervical cancer screening with the Pap and HPV tests.

Patient FAQ: Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) 

“Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP),” issued by ACOG in July 2014, explains how this procedure may be used after an abnormal cervical cancer screening result for evaluation and treatment. LEEP is one way to remove abnormal cells from the cervix.

Patient FAQ: Abnormal Cervical Cancer Screening Test Results

“Abnormal Cervical Cancer Screening Test Results,” issued by ACOG in January 2016, explains the types of abnormal cervical cancer screening results and their causes, what testing is needed after an abnormal test result, and treatment options for abnormal cervical cells.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality women’s health care, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care.


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
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Mailing Address: PO Box 96920, Washington, DC 20024-9998