Cervical Cancer Screening May Save a Life

Posted March 31, 2021

To support quality care, we’re providing information to providers and members to encourage discussions on health topics. Watch for more on health care quality in News and Updates.

Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer deaths for women in the U.S. It’s now the most preventable gynecological cancer, and the only one with both screening tests and a vaccine. Encourage our members to talk with you about having human papillomavirus (HPV) or Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer.

Why is cervical cancer screening important?

Cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer that usually starts without symptoms.1 It’s mainly caused by HPV. Regular screenings can detect cancer early, even before symptoms start. When cervical cancer is detected at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is over 90%.2 Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Closing care gaps

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening all women starting at age 21. Screening for cervical cancer is also recognized as a quality measure by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The NCQA uses the following criteria for screenings:

  • Women ages 21 to 64 who had cervical cytology performed within the last 3 years
  • Women ages 30 to 64 who had either:
    • cervical high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) testing within the last 5 years or
    • cervical cytology/high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) cotesting within the last 5 years

View our preventive care guidelines on cervical cancer screenings.

Best practices

Share member-friendly resources, and talk with members about risk reduction and prevention such as:3

  • Having regular screenings starting at age 21
  • Considering the HPV vaccine through age 45
  • Limiting sexual partners
  • Using condoms during sex
  • Stopping smoking

Best practices also include using the proper codes when filing claims. Proper coding can help identify gaps in care, provide accurate data and streamline your administrative processes.


1 CDC. What Are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer? Reviewed Jan. 12, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

2 American Cancer Society. Survival Rates for Cervical Cancer. Reviewed Feb. 2, 2021. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival.html

3 CDC. What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Cervical Cancer? Reviewed Jan.12, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/prevention.htm

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician or other health care provider. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the appropriate course of treatment. The fact that a service or treatment is described in this material is not a guarantee that the service or treatment is a covered benefit and members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any service or treatment is between the member and their health care provider.