Aspirus Media Center

Aspirus Health Shares Important Tips in Cervical Cancer Prevention


Natalie Weeks, MD, Family Medicine Resident Physician, Aspirus Wausau Family Medicine

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, providing an opportunity to highlight the significance of screenings and preventive measures in combating this potentially life-threatening disease. Natalie Weeks, MD, a Family Medicine Resident Physician at Aspirus Wausau Family Medicine, emphasizes that cervical cancer screenings play a vital role in saving lives, aiming to prevent cancer.


“Cervical cancer screening involves testing the cytology, or the cell types, of the cervix. The goal is to catch the cells before they turn into cancer, in the precancerous stage,” says Dr. Weeks. “Cervical cancer is asymptomatic until it's fairly progressed. So, if we can catch it earlier, it's easier to treat.”


Cervical cancer screenings should begin at age 21, with the following frequency recommendations based on age:

  • Age 21-29: screenings every three years without human papillomavirus (HPV) testing
  • Age 30-65: screenings every five years with HPV testing


Early detection is crucial, but prevention remains a key focus for primary care clinicians.


Dr. Weeks underscores the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine, stating, "You can prevent over 90 percent of cervical cancer by getting the HPV vaccine.”


Since HPV can be spread through sexual contact, she advises, “the goal is to get vaccinated before coming in contact with HPV, so sooner in life is better than later. We recommend it for both boys and girls, starting at the age of 11 and 12, although you can get it as early as nine and as late as 45.”


The vaccine's impact extends beyond cervical cancer prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV causes 70 percent of head and neck cancers in both men and women, making it essential for both genders to receive the vaccine.


Individual cancer prevention recommendations may vary based on health histories and risk factors. Therefore, regular communication with your healthcare provider is crucial for determining the best course of action for your well-being.


Both primary care clinicians and OB/GYNs can administer pap smears and cervical screenings. To find someone in your area, visit



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